The History of RPGClassics
Alexandria and the Grendel Wars (Late June - July 2003):
Unfortunately the positive news was not to last. Roughly on the 24th of June RPGC was hit by the second of a series of hacker and worm assaults on our server that became increasingly aggravating. Much of July and August would be wasted as we grappled with our server, which we call Grendel when acting up. They were very problematic because our site not only gets pulled off our hosts' network, but we have to pay for it to be restored and then still reconfigure our backups. Quite time consuming. The instance on the 24th was manageable because all our backups were only a week or so old and we just had experience with this, so once the server got restored Merlin, Cidolfas and Zero set things up pretty quickly. The staff then began the process of investigating ways to beef server security.
July began with the debut of another ambitious project. The RPGC Database was moved to its own subdomain and christened Alexandria, after the ancient Library that had existed there. This not only served as a means to concentrate our database endeavors -- but to make this part of the site distinct from the rest access-wise. The reason for creating this separation was the realization of plans for organizing a group of people to work on enlarging and deepening the Database's scope beyond Mazrim Taim's and Ackbar's initial efforts. They would be managed by staff members, organized into "squadrons" and would eventually be granted full-staff status if they worked long and hard enough.
After a two-week application process (over seventy applied!) and after the candidates were whittled down the initial group of these database maintainers were announced on July 22nd. Current staffers NineInchNails and Ackbar joined Dark Sand, Xachariah, Urkani, VickiMints, Charlemagne, Rudora, Esedess, Mabatsekker, Nulani, Peter Krupers, KyuuKen, Green Mage, Xelopheris, and X_countryguy as the initial class of maintainers. Walhalla, Tenchimaru Draconis, ClothHat, and Epicgamer were the staffers who managed them directly (in four groups), Cidolfas kept the PHP foundation running and Merlin handled overall maintenance. There were other site additions accomplished in July beyond Alexandria, despite our increasing server-grapplings. Tenchimaru Draconis joined to co-maintain the Fanfiction section of the site with Weiila, as Mazrim Taim hadn't really had the time to co-maintain it anymore. On July 10th Cless Alvein completed a shrine on the SNES game Lagoon, and on the 15th Dalton of Zeal unveiled a shrine for Ninja Boy 2.
But, Grendel and the woes of the Internet would not leave us alone. On July 20th the site was again struck by a hack or worm strike for the third time in roughly three months. It only took us a day or so to get back online from the time of the attack, but these situations were becoming both frequent and increasingly costly and aggravating. The staff's security investigations increased in pace, and even Black Ninja emerged from inactivity to help out as much as he was able. We finally found a suitable decision, electing to hire the server security group RackAid to come in and repair our security problems for a pretty penny. Rast fortuitously emerged from obscurity to help pay for much of its pricetag; and by the 26th of July the site became the most secure it has yet been. Of course, Grendel needed the last laugh, and our site went down for four hours the very next day. But this was due to our host's error and not a hacker or virus, and our server issues have been quiet since.
Fall Shrining (August - November 2003):
August was a relief from the frustrating server entanglements the staff had witnessed the previous few months. On the 8th Epicgamer posted a review for Arc the Lad: Twilight of the Spirits. Sony had granted us a review copy of the game in addition to the demo copy we had earlier received. On August 13th two new shrines debuted. Shalcar joined the staff with a shrine on Might and Magic 2, and the database maintainer X_countryguy joined the staff formally with a shrine on Lost Kingdoms. Less than five days later, on the 17th, WoodenLeg_10 debuted a shrine for Young Merlin. And to round out the month, Sephiroth Katana unveiled his long-worked on shrine for Vagrant Story on August 29th for the fourth shrine that month.
September was a slow month as summer waned down for most. On the 1st of the month the database maintainer Green Mage fully joined the staff with a shrine on System Shock 2. Otherwise most site updates were additions or changes to already-existing sections -- with the only other major site change being the easing of our HTML-requirements for creating a shrine for RPGClassics. In October the staff revisited their site charter, updating it with some relatively minor changes on the 12th, its third edition. The rest of October slid by relatively quietly as well, the most notable site change being Xachariah's promotion from database maintainer to staff with his completed shrine on Planescape: Torment on October 26th.
In November we posted a review of the "RPG" Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando demo we received, courtesy once again of Sony. Megaman984 performed the reviewing duties on the 7th. Sadly, on November 11th, Cidolfas decided that he could no longer continue all of his multiple duties around the site. He distributed his shrines amongst various staffers to maintain and update, enlisted outside help to work on his FFCompendium subsite, and handed over shrine submissions to the able hands of Hiryuu. He hasn't retired however, but is just doing the work he'd like to do at his own pace now. The last major update during November happened on the 23rd, when d_Galloway released yet another shrine on the Quest for Glory franchise, this time for Quest for Glory 4.
The 4th Millennial Fair (December 2003 - Early January 2004):
December began with the staff planning their fourth incarnation of the Millennial Fair. Kagon managed it last year, but this time Cless Alvein handled the scheduling. Before then however, around the 13th, Tenchimaru Draconis took over the links and affiliates pages from Kagon, who didn't have time to manage it. The next day, on the 14th, Cless Alvein unveiled a section covering the upcoming release of the latest Fire Emblem game. Nintendo, _the_ Nintendo, contacted us requesting we cobble something together for this game, and we heartily obliged. This demonstrates the continuing growth and outreach of our website.
The trials of 2003 were evident with our fourth Millennial Fair, as it was not quite the same deluge of announcements as last year's. But there were still some significant additions as many areas of the site were tweaked. Merlin updated the Quotes Archive and (this) Site History; Megaman984 performed his annual RPGCarols subsite update; the Fanmusic section got an addition by Skankin' Garbage; Tenchimaru Draconis updated the Fanfic section and the Harvest Moon shrine; Kero Hazel added seven new reviews and an interview to the Soundtrack Reviews section; Cidolfas updated the Star Ocean shrine with the latest translation information; Zeppelin brought the expansive Final Fantasy 6 shrine very close to completion; and of course, the latest weekly polls were updated by Cless Alvein :P
2003 was generally a difficult year for the staff. While such ambitions as the Sekkrit Project and Alexandria were unveiled, and even though we welcomed eight new staffers and nineteen new shrines (not to mention the database maintainers), we still had quite a share of difficulties. We ran into absolutely terrible security problems, which took nearly four months to remedy. We lost three staffers and almost a fourth, but at least they all decided to leave their content with us. Plus much of the year was marked by rather heated internal discussions, to the point of rough arguments -- generally over rather minor issues. But, despite all the travails from within and without, the staff stuck together, kept with its mission, and hopefully has moved past that taxing year.
So there you have it. Despite constant staff shuffling, random server troubles, and inner-site blood feuds RPGClassics remains one of the most popular (and if I daresay, one of the best) sources of game information on the 'Net. Because of its extra services, personality, and most importantly its shrines, RPGC is able to keep up with our other much larger competition around the globe. Members may come and go, but RPGC's cooperative leadership, sense of humor, and our common love for the games we play, will always keep it fresh and competitive.