In 1999 I got the realms.co.uk domain name free as part of an ISP deal. This site, in its initial form, was created. Uploaded by 56k modem (remember those?), it began as a place to put reviews, articles and game ideas. Some of those reviews look pretty awful now – 7th Sea being one, but some of the other work holds up. That site of course moved to the Realms.org.uk domain, largely due to wanting server-side scripting, but not being able to free the domain from the ISP…
The eZine went in fits and starts, looking back round about 2002-2003 was that site’s high point. I was posting reviews most months, articles and interviews too. The directory was humming along with new entries. I was chuffed to get comp copies of some games to review, kinda felt like I’d landed somehow, somewhere, in RPG land. In those years I had the fun of unreliable hosting, lost database backups, rebuilding the entire site from Google’s cache and other trials of the web. I had articles translated into Hebrew and French, I met people online who shared similar interests in game design and play.
There were some good discussions on the forum, I remember a great thread on the burgeoning UK RPG Publishers scene… The forum went through several incarnations eventually using Vanilla’s first beta, and then closing down because there were other, better, places for that kind of discussion and anti-span measures hadn’t been invented yet. A lot of RPG discussion was going on on Livejournal by then, so I got one of those for a while…
I was active on other forums at that time and helping out other folks who’d just self published by reviewing their stuff or with minor editorial duties. In 2004 I went from helping others to joining in and was one of the authors involved in the Nopress Anthology. That release led to visiting some cons, including Spiel Essen and Dragonmeet 2005. That event was pivotal as I met up with some folks I’d chatted to online like Malcolm and Gregor, and solidified my plan to release a game on my own.
For a while this site just redirected to the eZine, but I eventually managed to free up the domain and so when it came to commercially releasing the games I’d made I decided to move that here. So in 2006 this site re-launched as the design blog and publishing side. Looking back, I probably should have shifted everything here and taken advantage of the eZine’s visibility more. It still gets more traffic to this day, even after not having a new article since 2006.
I’ve not done too bad in three years of self publishing though, Covenant sells steadily and Pulp! has gone from ashcan to final release. Most of my design discussion now goes on at the Collective Endeavour, and that little community seems to have found its niche nicely too. It does mean I don’t post about design here though, just cons and news, which leaves it feeling a little empty.
So I’m left wondering quite where to take Realms next. Ten years is a long time to be online and it feels like time for a change. I’m thinking of maybe merging the two sites once more and culling some material that’s no longer relevant. Thoughts?