Today, it's been exactly ten years since the official release of PkHonor 2nd generation, as we have come to call it. I'm hoping PkHonor will get to live for at least another ten - or even more - and I intend to stick around all the way until the end, but ten years is definitely a mark worthy of mentioning.
PkHonor as an RSPS has been around since May 2008. However, Hamade (aka X Mage, the owner at the time) and Sami (the coder at the time) had closed down the server shortly after the summer of 2009. All that time, I had never even heard of PkHonor before. I used to play RuneScape in 2006 and 2007, which is also where I met Hamade for the first time, but I'd never ventured into the world of RSPS before.
Until one evening, sometime halfway October 2009, when Hamade took up contact with me again. As one old acquaintance to another. We talked about life, about our studies, about what we'd been doing in the two years in which we hadn't talked to each other. Until he started telling about PkHonor, the RSPS that he owned until a month or so before. Considering I had just finished my first year of Computer Science at the University, he wondered if I had any interest in starting up PkHonor again with him as owner and Sami and me as coders.
I agreed to it, but not because I expected to earn anything from it. I did it because I've always had an interest in game programming and because it would be a good experience for later. I had no clue what that decision would mean for the next ten years, or in fact for the rest of my life.
My very first task was to make an auto-updater for the PkHonor client, so players wouldn't have to manually download a new client after every client update. Believe it or not, that updater has barely changed in those ten years. We still use pretty much the same one today.
On 1 November 2009, we officially launched PkHonor again. This time with me on board. It was also the one and only time PkHonor had undergone an economy reset. Not by choice, but because there was no way to retrieve the old character files.
So much has happened since.
We went up a bit, then down again. In the second half of 2010, I was pretty much on my own, working on a new version of PkHonor based on another RSPS project that Dylan (Donderstone2) had downloaded from rune-server. Both Hamade and Sami had pretty much given up on PkHonor. We had about 5 players on average with a peak of 20 during high times.
In December of that year, I released the new version. Yet still, we didn't get any new players. We had no donations and I had invested everything I had in my bank just to keep paying for the server upkeep. Hundreds of euros I had spent of my own money, I didn't have much as I was simply a poor student and my parents had a hard time to make ends meet (in fact, the only reason I managed to study at the University at all is because the government paid for it - thank socialism for that one).
Anyway, so it was that I kept paying for a server with barely more than a dozen players online at peak times. Yet I kept doing it because I always firmly believed it would grow again.
Until that fateful day, new years day of 2011. RuneLocus had just reset, sometime in the afternoon. I went on the server, asking every single person online to vote for us on RuneLocus. They all did (like, all five of them), but that was enough. Because RuneLocus had just reset that very minute, it was enough to get us the first spot. Then the snowball started. People noticed us. They started playing PkHonor. They voted for us. The whole of the first two days of January 2011, we managed to stay on that first spot, thanks to players voting for us, new ones coming and continuing the snowball effect. The first day, we got to 100 players. The second day, we got to 200.
Then the server couldn't handle it anymore and crashed.
Either way, we were off again. The server remained relatively unstable for a time, balancing around 100 players (the server crashed if we had any more), but in the years that followed, further stability issues were addressed and the server has never been more stable than we are today.
The first week of January 2011, Hamade rejoined. There was hope again for the server. He once again took up his title as Owner until his resignation in August 2013. In July 2011, Rapsey joined as coder and system administrator. His first task was to move all our character files into a central database system. Over the next two years, his involvement in PkHonor increased, until he became my equal as co-owner after Hamade's resignation.
I've never had any regrets about PkHonor. I couldn't have imagined better people to work with on such a project than Hamade or Rapsey, and to this date I remain firm in my belief that PkHonor will keep on living for a long time to come, with Rapsey and myself managing it to the best of our abilities, with the staff team and other developers there to assist us in our work.
Which also brings me to the staff team, whose dedication and loyalty has exceeded my expectations. I've never before seen so few resignations before. But not only the current staff team, also everyone to who's been staff before, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks. We could never have done this without you.
After our boom in January 2011, we've always managed to maintain a decent ranking on prominent toplists. All that time, I've been able to make a living off PkHonor. It's never made either us of rich, but it was enough. Enough to pay the bills and put a bit of money aside. None of which could have ever happened without our donators. I would also like to extend my gratitude to the thousands of people who have donated to us through all these years, and who continue to do so. It's the only reason I can keep doing what I do, to add new features and spend so much of my time working to improve the server.
I understand that I might not be the most approachable person. I'm aware that my presence on the server (or the forums) is far too minimal for myself to be considered a good (co-)owner. I know that. But considering the nature of an online game, along with my personality (which is often feeling far too much responsibility for everything and everyone), it's the only way I've managed to make it work. I've always needed to put some distance between myself and the server, or the people surrounding it, so as not to get stressed or burnt out.
I've had multiple burn-outs in the past, all due to PkHonor and the way I dealt with it (or rather, the way I was unable to deal with it), but at least I can give it a place in my life now. Not always to the liking of the community I'm sure, but I have to do what works for me. Every now and then, I pop up with a new update, then I disappear in my hidey hole again, not to be seen or heard from for days or even weeks. That's the way it's most often been and that's the way it will most likely remain in the years to come.
Now, we are almost about to release the Theatre of Blood. After that, I want to add the Alchemical Hydra. Then the Chambers of Xeric and finally the Inferno. Surely there's dozens of other monsters and items to add, improvements to make, bugs to fix. I want to do it all, yet I only have two hands and one set of brains.
Which brings me to our developers. Thoby, Jeremy, Andres and Dylan. All of them have made major contributions to the server, yet none of them ever asked anything in return. Just like our staff team, they chose to spend their time volunteering for a server they love. And I feel that sometimes, just like our staff team, they are not being recognized for the work they do. Not just by the community, but also by myself. So also to them, although words are not enough to describe it, I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart for everything they have done for us.
On the flip side of things, I'm all too aware that we've hit a low point in recent times. The RSPS community has shrunk over the past year and there's at least a dozen servers out there that can boast as many features as we do. Competition is fiercer than ever and finding affordable advertisement isn't easy. PkHonor being around for so long certainly has its perks, there's no server that people trust as much as we do in terms of still being around after so many years, being able to log in and finding your account exactly the way you left it 7 years ago. No other server has managed to do what we did in that regard. But there's also a downside. People who have already done pretty much all there is to do on PkHonor. Folks who have been banned (and there's been lots). People that dislike the community or the way some things are coded and who won't consider playing again, no matter what we do. They made their mind up about us as a server. Because of all this, the effect of our advertisement efforts have faded over time and investing has become trickier than ever. If we were to re-release us under a different name, you can bet that we'd grow faster than we currently do. However, it would be short lived and we'd lose all the trust we have built up over all these years.
Yet we remain optimistic. This month, we've had the luck of managing to place a bid for the 2nd spot on TopG (which are being openly auctioned since very recently), a toplist that has long served as a major source of new players for us in the past. Today, the spot has gone live and will certainly result in growth again. And of course, we're just about to release a near perfect Theatre of Blood, which is no small feat.
Our playerbase may sometimes shrink, but never disappear. For as long as we're around, we will do whatever we can to make it grow and to keep the community happy. It won't always work, the cheating of other servers on toplists, the corruption of toplist owners (looking at you, RuneLocus and RSPS-List!) and other servers snatching advertisement spots away from under our nose will always keep working against us, but we'll always keep doing our best. Because that's what we need to do.
In two months, I'm turning 30. That means PkHonor has been a major part of me for over a third of my life so far.
I've always considered it to be my life's work.
And I'll be damned if I'm going to let my life's work go to waste.