Some of you have expressed interest in what goes on behind the scenes at RR. For those brave souls, we offer the following post about part of our site rebuild and server move!
“What could possibly go wrong?”
Those words now cause everyone at Raythe Reign to break out into gales of hysterical laughter. I personally fall to the floor and start rolling around with tears streaming down my face.
As many of you know, Raythe Reign recently was rebuilt and moved to a new dedicated server. Those of you who know anything about building websites or moving servers understand that doing just ONE of these things is stressful. But doing both — when you only have a few weeks because your old server keeps crashing — is hair-losing, mind-bending, tear-inducing work.
But lest I think that this experience was “bad”, I need to remind myself of what has come before.
We’ve done a build three times and moved twice in RR’s “life”. I think it’s like childbirth, where you forget the pain until you’re doing it again. But then there’s the pleasure of what is created!
Dan, RR’s website administrator, joined RR right before the first move. Those of you who were around back then might remember this, but we had a succession of designers. The first designer created the site with a very cool “DNA” strand of flying book covers… that managed to crash the site every time someone accessed it.
And this happened despite the fact that they were over seven months late delivering on the site.
The next designers started a new site to replace that one. I gave them half the cash upfront, and they promised it would be done in a month. They then demanded more money after being three months late and only doing maybe twenty minutes of work leaving me with a crashing old site and a barely designed new one.
That’s when Dan came in. He was the recommendation of a friend of a friend. I didn’t know him from Adam. I didn’t trust anyone anymore after all I’d gone through (just check out my livejournal posts in 2009 and 2010).
On top of that, I had just lost my job and the site was the only income I had coming in to pay the mortgage and get food on the table. I was out huge amounts of money from both site designs, and the last thing I needed was to spend more, but the site needed to be rebuilt. It was half-broken and only limping along. It was either fix it or finish it.
Somehow, Dan agreed to step into that mess and help. That time, we put up a site in 2 1/2 weeks. Both he and I worked night and day to move the content over by hand. And miraculously, we got it done and working and Dan was one of the RR Team for life. I wasn’t letting him get away.
We also swore to each other that we wouldn’t ever have to do something like that again. After all, how many times do you have such a terrible crisis that you need to build a website in record time? Surely, such a convergence of events would NEVER happen again!
Ah, surely …
But then, in July, the hosting company moved us from one server to another, against our will. After that, the site began to be very, very slow with the occasional crash during the night. We didn’t even notice at first, because our Members are so awesome that they didn’t complain and it was happening when Dan and I were sleeping. But then the crashing started to happen when we were awake.
And then it started to happen all the time … It got so bad at the end that we were having to restart the server five or six times AN HOUR.
Our hosting company could never fully explain what was happening, but the bottom line ended up being we were simply too big for the server (even though we oddly weren’t before the move). RR 3.0 was planned to go forward in the fall. We believe it could be done leisurely. We believed that Dan and I wouldn’t have to be working 24/7. Matter of fact, the idea was that I wouldn’t have to work on it at all but just concentrate on writing and customer support.
Ah, the best of intentions …
But I couldn’t let what was going on with the site continue. It wasn’t fair nor right nor what I wanted for the Members. Dan and I had to get the new site up on the new dedicated server NOW.
So I sat down and sketched out how I wanted the new site to look and to work. I contacted Mathia and had Mathia working like a fiend on new banners, backgrounds, anything and everything I could think of. Dan programmed fiendishly while I hand-moved over a thousand articles, illustrations and created character profiles, etc. The goal was to get up the bare bones of the site and then move Members over so that they could access the content without crashing, even if things on the new site weren’t complete.
And we did just that in a little under two weeks.
There is still a lot more to do on the site. We always have ideas for improvements, so there will be new and exciting things that will be added. The manga will be fully “flippable”. There will be a library where you can search by “type of creature” (feeling in the mood for vampire stories? well, check out all these! etc.) You’ll be seeing an updated store and some fun stand-alone websites for our individual novels as they come up for sale.
And all of this is/will be running on a sleek, fast and dedicated server to make things incredibly easy for our Members to access the content they want.
I want to say a personal THANK YOU, YOU’RE FREAKING AWESOME, MEMBERS! to all the Members of Raythe Reign who stuck with us through this difficult time. The thought of you guys was what kept us working into the wee hours of the morning, through holidays away from family and friends, and lack of sleep.
If you haven’t, already do check out the new site here. And keep stopping by. Like I said above, there will be a ton more to come!