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Hello all! I normally reserve this kind of post for my Site Blog - a blog reserved for updates on developments on the site - but as we are nearing release I thought it would be wise to announce a few things in a slightly more public place. This post is meant to inform both newcomers and veterans alike, and is purely about the going-ons of this website. It will also come off as somewhat more of a wall of text than usual, but I hope you'll at least skim through and read the pieces with interesting titles. I'll also split it into pages to make it a bit easier to chew. Enjoy!
RGF's History and Policies - A Good Read for EveryoneOn this page I'm going to go over a bit of background on the site and some of our policies regarding advertisements, nudity/"pornographic material," user registrations, and possibly more. Here's a handy dandy header to separate one paragraph from another:
A Brief HistoryRGF (Runic Games Fansite) was started approximately four years ago, after the fall of Flagship Studios and the shutdown of the Mythos beta. It was started partially on a whim, as I had almost no website management experience at the time and saw an opportunity to be the first at something. The other part of my motivation was to show my support for the newly founded Runic Games and my confidence that after seeing Mythos, anything else they made could be nothing but pure gold. Speaking of gold, let's talk about...
AdvertisementsAs the site grew over the past four years so did my experience, and the cost of running the site. After Torchlight 1 was released the site finally stopped being paid for out of my own pocket and has since been supported purely by the advertisements on the site. We snagged a sweet deal with Giant Realm, with Google Adsense as a backup. My policy on advertisements is to have them be the least annoying as possible and safe against any form of malware. The only exception to the annoyance rule should be sponsored advertisements, which may play sound or video. The advertisements can EASILY pay for an entire month of server maintenance in a couple days, so in the rare occasions when we have one that bothers people I tend to let it run its course (usually a few days maximum) just because the good outweighs the bad in that situation. Regular advertisements that are annoying deserve to be blocked asap.
That said, if you have a slow connection or something, you can request to be personally put into a no-advertisements usergroup. The current population of that usergroup is 1. Just keep in mind that just viewing those advertisements - not even clicking on them or buying anything or anything along those lines - is all it takes to show your support for this site.
Fan Owned, Fan MaintainedI'm a fan. I run the site, and own it. The only ones who can tell me what to do are my web host, and Runic Games (there are minor limitations as part of their fansite program, such as no sexual/adult material). Other than that, how the site is run and grows over time depends on my judgement, the opinions of my staff of volunteer helpers, and the voices in the community. It's not perfect, but I do my best.
If we ever got an offer from some big network to outright buy the site - as is not uncommon in this "business" - I honestly don't know what I'd do. It would depend on a number of factors: how much, whether I'd be allowed to continue running the site as I have, my financial status at the time, and whether or not I actually like the network making the offer. I work a full time job as a Preschool Teacher (at an International School in Japan), which means I don't have as much time for the site and even to play computer games as I used to. If I had the opportunity to make this site a stable source of income for at least a year, I might take it. What I'd PREFER would be to be able to do that through the advertisements we already have and sponsorship through Giant Realm, but it's all a fanciful daydream as it stands now.
Long story short: I'd like to do everything I can to keep this site owned and maintained by fans, short of destroying my own livelihood. I don't like donation buttons or asking for money, don't like paid memberships, and don't even like requiring a membership to access the most essential functions of the site whenever possible. That's probably not a sane business model, but that's why it's my hobby, and not my job.
Nudity, Pornography, and Nude ModsLet's just be clear on this: Runic Games doesn't let any site in their Fansite Program have nude mods or content of that manner. My host also does not support any form of pornography. As such, when Torchlight 2 launches I'm going to be very strict about what is considered acceptable and what isn't when it comes to class skins and other mods. This policy also applies to every other part of the site, including the soon-to-come Media Gallery.
User RegistrationIf you register on this site, your information isn't ever used for anything other than to contact you, and even that isn't very common. Not only will it not ever be sold or anything like that, but I almost never have any reason to even try to look into the database for anything - unless you're a spammer, then you get your IP Address checked against a database and all that goodness.
I don't want you to be required to register to read the news, read most of the forums, to download mods, or access the media gallery. You do need to register to post comments most of the time, or to rate things, or to upload mods or media content. If you want to contribute to the site, you can register and do so. If you want to be a guest, then you can be one. The ONLY difference between the two otherwise is that Registered Members shouldn't ever get interstitial advertisements - ads that appear when you click a link and contain a countdown timer before the destination page is loaded. If you are registered and contributing to the community, I consider that a fair trade for a few ad views we lose.
Upcoming Developments - What's About to Change
Pre-Release CoverageI'll be honest with you: I have no idea what is going to happen and when. Runic is working their asses off to get this game out, but what most people don't realize is that a nearly-complete version of the game goes out to the press a little while before the actual launch (to allow for reviews to be written). There is a chance that next weekend I will be playing and streaming Torchlight 2 for your enjoyment. There is an equal chance that the press version won't make it out in time for my amazingly timed three day weekend, and I'll miss out on that opportunity. What will be will be. However, that sets the stage for the next topic...
Torchlight II Mods, A New Media Gallery, and A Load of ArticlesAssuming this time next week I will have the game in my hands, that means I have less than a week to finalize and get the new media gallery, mods database, several articles, and possibly a fixed-up version of our theme online. I DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH TIME FOR ALL OF THESE.
Realistically, I'll get the media gallery and new mods database online and in a working state, and polish it up later. The current theme works, but it's missing a few fixes that are included in an update I haven't had time to patch in yet. I'd rather RGF be looking its best for release, but I might have to make due.
What I WILL do no matter what is attempt to implement the advertisements in a different manner, that once again MIGHT improve page loading times and properly separate guest advertisements from registered member advertisements without breaking the entire page AND HotSpot. Cross your fingers for me.
As for the new Media Gallery, it will have image and video options, allow anyone to upload or link to their images or videos, and if I am lucky will also include all current albums imported into the new format. It should at least make browsing the PAX Skill Screenshots a lot easier.
The new Mods Database is separate from the old one because it is using a newer, (hopefully) better supported software, and also allows for more flexibility for things like putting up download mirrors. Our TL2 Modding Guides will be a subsection of the Database.
HotSpotHotSpot 2.0's beta is almost here. I'm looking at the Alpha right now. In fact, the biggest problem right now might be server side, so I had better get on that. Once it's in open beta, we'll get as much Torchlight 1 functionality implemented as we can while waiting for Torchlight II. Steamworks may be available on Torchlight II from day one, and HotSpot probably can't quite match that speed, but at the very least we can do our best to have a solid product ready for you to use as soon as possible. More updates on this separately later on.
The CommunityI'm just throwing this one in here for good measure. We're about to have a population explosion, the likes of which we haven't yet seen. This could cause anything to happen, from the server slowing down to an influx of spammers to (gasp) a massive increase in content and discussion. The thing to remember is that you need to be nice and follow the rules, or else you'll be warned or silenced. I don't put up with harassment, insults, link spamming, etc. Heated discussions are allowed.
Newbie UsergroupA final note for this page: I will be properly implementing a Newbie usergroup in the near future. Once that is finished I will re-enable things like blogs and Visitor Messages for everyone registered and not in the Newbie group. This is primarily a spam prevention measure, and hopefully won't be too inconvenient.
In Case of Emergency
In Case of EmergencyThis page, which is the final page, is merely a public service notice. I totally expect things to break and slow down and do any number of inconvenient things around launch and afterwards. It's what always happens when we get a load of new people and/or new software implemented on the site. I do have a full time job, but I'll do my best to keep things online.
IF something goes wrong, you can hit me up on twitter (@ webbstre or @ runicgamesfans) or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I get notifications directly to my phone and can try to at least reboot the server from there.
In the event that traffic gets so heavy that the site just can't handle it (something that would be amazing and wonderful) I'll simply upgrade. Upgrades to new hardware can cause different problems, but with stronger hardware it's more likely the site will run smoothly. It will cost more, but the hopes is that we'd be getting enough traffic to handle whatever costs may be incurred.
That's it for this post. If you feel I forgot anything, or have any questions, let me know in the comments. It's midnight here, and I have possibly only 6 more nights to get everything done, so I think I'll sleep now. Have a good weekend everyone!
RGF Administrator, Owner, Founder, and Busybody