This article originally appeared on www.gamergod.com but the site is now defunct. The author is heartless_ and you can visit his gaming blog here. The article was created in August of 2005.
There is one place on the internet that WoW players go to get population census? for their server and that website is WarcraftRealms.com Owned and operated by Rollie the site has grown in leaps and bounds since WoW?s release. Today heartless_ brings you exclusive insight from the man behind WarcraftRealms.com.
1. Starting out could you give us just a brief overview of the site and its features and a brief on your background as far as programming and anything else you wanted to add.
My name is Cooper Sellers(Rollie) and I am the sole admin and owner of WarcraftRealms. I also have a few other websites that I maintain, but at the moment WarcraftRealms is my baby and gets the lion?s share of my development time and effort. I began my website development several years ago when I did a ton of work on a guild website for my Everquest guild, Sol Invictus (www.solinvictus.org
). To the average user, there isn?t much to the website that would warrant a second glace, but under the hood is a ton of information which is only viewable to members. Let?s just say that SI has a highly customized raid tracking and loot system that required some useful and complicated tools to keep everything running smoothly.
While web development has become a large part of my life, it is not my full time job. By trade I am an application developer working for a company that specializes in recovery products for the airline industry. Prior to this position, I was in game development, having worked for 3 years at Acclaim and then just over a year at the EA Origin studio before it was *relocated* to California.
WarcraftRealms is quite obviously a site dedicated to World of Warcraft. It strives to present many different facets of realm and server related data including demographics, population numbers, player activity numbers, guild information, character histories and profiles.
1. What inspired you to build the site?
Originally my intention for WarcraftRealms was to be a community site for any and all realms in the World of Warcraft Universe. I had plans to have template mini-sites that could be easily rolled out for any realm. Features would include server forums, community calendars, announcements and the like, with the possibility of also providing guild related services such as rosters, guild specific calendars, news events, and more.
However, then along came what I felt was cool little UI Mod called Census. The original author was Ian Pieragostini and the original mod can even still be found on his website here
. I found the data to be very interesting and thought the compiled data could blend very well with the type of services I was planning to provide with WarcraftRealms.
So I contacted Ian about his thoughts on processing the data and providing it to users on the web. He actually then put me in contact with another individual who also had plans to process this data. This person was Evic and he would be the future admin of wowcensus.com. There was some brief discussion in a joint effort, but I didn?t feel that the presentation he was going for meshed with what I wanted to do, so off we went in our own directions.
2. Is it really a one man team behind the site or is there a bunch of naked dwarves hiding somewhere?
Yup, it?s a one man band, and the thought of a bunch of naked dwarves hiding in my office is very? disturbing! I think I would smell thh3 even if they were around though so I don?t think there is the possibility that any are hiding under my desk.
3. Originally the Census UI mod was operated out of WoWcensus.com... what do you believe attracted people to Warcraft Realms? How did you gain rights to work on the UI mod?
That?s not entirely correct. The Census UI mod was not actually ever operated out of wowcensus.com, although Evic basically posted saying that was the case. According to Ian, he had no dealings with Evic other than that Evic was using the data, much as I was. Evic never updated or modified the UI Mod other than what Ian originally provided on his own website. I wouldn?t exactly say that Evic ever owned or maintained the Census UI mod.
I also wouldn?t really say that anyone owns rights to work on any UI mod. All of the mods are basically open source and nobody has any right to their mod according to the Blizzard TOS. That being said though, there is quite a bit of ?ownership? in the mod community and I think you would be hard pressed to not find someone who feels they ?own? their mod and mod code.
As for the Census UI mod, I spoke with Ian about some changes and updates I had in mind for the Census UI mod. It was at this point that Ian told me that he had pretty much lost interest in World of Warcraft and in modding for WoW. He encouraged me to take Census and create my own branded version, and thus Census+ was born. Ever since I have continued to maintain, improve and add new features to the UI mod and will plan to do so for a long time to come! As for what attracted folks to WarcraftRealms, I always worked to provide the most viewing options as well as the most pertinent and accurate data.
For example, one major difference between WoWcensus and WarcraftRealms was that WoWcensus tracked data from inception on all characters, whereas I filtered the data to only include characters seen in the previous 30 days that were also above level 10. The reason for this was simple. I looked at the data that I was getting, and there are a large number of ?throw away? characters that get created that never level above level 10. I didn?t want these sub level 10 characters to skew the data. And of course I wanted the data to be current as well, so that is why I dismissed characters not seen in the previous 30 days.
Another major difference was when the European launch came about. Evic did not separate the EU and US data. And since many EU and US servers shared the same name, he combined that data together. For example, there is a US Bloodscalp and an EU Bloodscalp. Evic combined the data for these 2 servers, while I maintained separation at WarcraftRealms.
4. Warcraft Realms is a very well done site if you ask me. What level of satisfaction do you have with the site currently? Do you get a lot of traffic on the site?
Thank you! I?m glad you think so! The site has become more popular than I had ever thought possible. It has moved from a shared hosting environment, to a very low end dedicated server, and then to where it is now, on the most powerful dedicated server my hosting provider has available. It has had some growing pains and I had never fully administered my own dedicated server before, so there was quite a bit to be learned to get to where it is today. All in all, at this point, I am very happy with how the site has performed.
5. You are well known for building very good community based tools. Such as the signature maker, guild data export, and various reporting options. Where do these ideas come from? Community?
Most of the ideas are my own, but there have been influences from various places. The exports were kind of inspired by SWGCraft.com?s resource availability exports for Star Wars Galaxies
. The signature maker was an idea I had had for a while, but didn?t really move on it until an individual approached me about harvesting the data for his own signature generator type site. While I was looking at the feasibility of providing this data to him, it became very apparent that it would be much easier and more reliable if I went ahead and finished up my own signature generator plans so I?ll credit him with getting me jumpstarted to completing that feature.
6. You also play WoW and have a level 60 rogue on Bloodscalp/Horde. How does running the site interfere with your gaming time?
Hrmmm? the question here is does running the site interfere with my game time, or does my game time interfere with running the site! Joking aside, I love that WoW is so casual friendly. I like how you don?t have to commit to long stints of play time. I can log on for a bit, get some play time in, and log off. Realize that I have been playing since release and I don?t think it?s too dh3anding to reach 60 even playing at a casual pace in this amount of time.
7. As a gamer and fansite operator how does WoW stack up against other games you have played?
I have played quite a few other MMO?s including Everquest, SWG, DAoC, E&B, City of Heroes and Anarchy Online. The great thing to me about WoW is that it?s just plain fun and very casual player friendly. While I may find faults in the PVP honor systh3 and lack of depth in the crafting system, the ease and variety of play in WoW has won me over.
8. Has Blizzard contacted you in regards to your census data at all?
Hehe, I don?t really think Blizzard appreciates the data I provide. I?m not really sure why, other than some folks use it as firepower to complain about the server imbalances. I have never heard a peep from them one way or another. I have tried to contact them a couple of times now, but I have never heard anything back besides the canned ?Thank you for contacting Blizzard? response email.
9. At one point Blizzard downplayed the accuracy of census websites. What sort of evidence do you have to backup your numbers?
It all boils down to what you are looking for. Blizzard can say that the numbers are not correct, and they would be right. There is no way for the numbers to be 100% correct. But the numbers don?t have to be 100% correct to give very good indicators of server population, demographics, and activity. When you are dealing with a sample size of 3 million characters seen in 30 days over level 10, how can you tell me that the numbers presented are not very close to the actual figures?
I will say this though. Some realms are better covered than others. If very few snapshots are provided for a particular faction/realm, then yes, the numbers can be skewed. I do have indicators on the site to let the user know when this is a possibility though so they can make their own judgments.
10. What are your future plans with the Census+ UI mod? The website?
For the mod, I will continue to improve and tweak the gathering algorithms. As more and more characters hit lvl 60, it becomes a challenge to make sure you can cover them all while dealing with the limitations of the /who system. I am also planning to provide some interesting new features utilizing the guild and player information that is available while you are playing. I also have some PVP and honor related ideas that I?m still kicking around.
As for the site, I have many things in the works. Too many at once probably! I just recently added character profiles which needs some additional work. I have also started processing Auctioneer data that gets submitted to track average buyout prices for items seen in the Auction House. I think this will become a great tool once I get this finalized. Not only will this provide great information on item prices, but it will also give a way to calculate server economies for comparison against one another, and against the norm. I have some updated signature generator plans, and even some cool PvP Honor display information that I will hopefully unveil in the not so distant future.
11. Any other UI mods you work on outside of Census+?
I have a couple of home grown mods that I wrote. One is called MFiend, or MountFiend. It?s a very simple mod that helps with rogue dismounting and stealthing. Another mod that I had a lot of fun working on and has a lot of potential is my MKombat sound mod. While this mod started out adding sound bites from the Mortal Kombat arcade game, it has grown into a fully customizable sound mod that even allows for custom sound packs to be loaded and unloaded on the fly. For example, I can load my Mortal Kombat sound pack to hear ?FINISH HIM!? when my target gets to 20% health, or I can load my Unreal Tournament sound pack to hear the UT ?HEADSHOT? sound clip when I get a critical Aimed Shot with my hunter. The beauty of this mod is its expandability. I put a lot of work into allowing for fully custom sound packs to be easily created and used, but it has met with limited success.
12. What do you believe WarcraftRealms.com offers the average WoW player who doesn't use your Census+ UI mod?
I think it has a lot to offer. Let?s say you are a guild leader or recruitment officer and an individual approaches you about joining your guild. As a responsible guild leader, you want to make sure you only invite the most upstanding of individuals, so you pull up this individual?s character history on the website to see that he has been in 20 different guilds during his tenure in WoW. You would now know to look into this individual a little closer to see why he has had such a hard time sticking with a guild, possibly even contacting his past guild leaders to see what they thought of this person.
Of course there are also other things, such as the guild rosters where you can find out about a potential guild you might want to join. And the auto-signatures which you can use on forums or however you see fit. You can keep up with the latest end game victories by visiting the guild progression list. And of course you can find out server populations out of curiosity, or when choosing a new server to start on.
Soon, you will be able to check item and service (such as enchanting) prices. Soon you will be able to see wide scale information on character, guild, and even server PvP honor, rankings, and contribution. And there?s more to come!
It should be noted that since this was written, WoWCensus.com has been bought by OGaming.com and has not been seen online since.