Thread is open for 7 days. (Saturday 8th of June)
A: This is a story that starts where I was still quite young (somewhere between twelve and fourteen). Back at that time, I had a lot of admiration for my older brother who was really into programming himself during his spare time. I always looked up to him and to the things that he could accomplish through programming. Once he had finished high school, he went to the university to get a master's degree in computer science. Three years later, I finished high school myself. I followed my brother his footsteps and went to university myself, taking the same course in computer science.
Though it wasn't just my brother of course, I myself played a lot of video games and spent a lot of time behind a computer during high school. We also had one class of computer science during high school, where we had to do some coding in visual basic. I was very good at that class, and that was also the main reason I took computer science at the university. Even though the only experience I had with coding was that one class, I knew it was what I wanted to do later on.
Q: Why did you decide to do java as coding language?
A: After having made some simple stuff in visual basic at high school, I had my second experience with programming at the university: we had a class where we learned Java. Note that before the class, I had never coded a single line of Java code before. But I found it to be very interesting, the ease of the language as well as everything you can do with it. I even had the idea of making a few simple games in java myself.
Then, during the second year at the university, Hamade contacted me, asking me if I was interested in becoming a programmer for PkHonor. I gladly accepted, because I wanted to get better at programming and what better way to do it than by making an actual game?
In the meantime, I have learned several other scripting and progamming languages, but Java is still my favorite language. Mostly because it's simple, easy, offers a lot of possibilities and is easy to debug. And also because RuneScape (and any RSPS) is made purely in Java - so if I wanted to code an RSPS, I didn't have any choice but to use Java anyway.
Since I spent a lot of time on PkHonor, I have learned a lot about the language and I have become quite good at it. The fact that I can program quite well in Java is also one of the reasons I like working with it.
Q: Do you get paid for programming the server?
A: For as long as I have worked for PkHonor, I have received a share of the profit. That is, after all expenses for the server are paid, we divide whatever money is left amongst ourselves, the owners. The first three or four months, I worked a lot for PkHonor without any income, but I didn't care about that either. I enjoyed what I did and I never really expected to make a profit from it in the first place. It's only later on that I actually started getting a decent revenue.
Q: How much actual revenue do you make from PkHonor?
A: I'm afraid this is something I'd rather keep to myself. Asking another person how much they make is one of those questions you simply don't ask anyone. I know that a lot of people are curious about this, but I'm afraid I cannot say. I'm not the kind of person to complain or boast over how much I make, and I'd rather not make it a topic of discussion either.
However, there are some things I can say. For example, as stated in the previous question, I didn't receive any money for the first three months that I worked for PkHonor. It was only in the four or so months after that when I received some money. It wasn't much, but it was enough to pay for my daily expenses such as food and clothing, as well as to build up a little bit of savings for later on. If PkHonor were to be my actual job at the time, I would have been paid at about 1$ per hour. But I wasn't in it for the money. It was a fun experience which taught me a lot, and the extra bit of money was something I could really use.
From July until December 2010, I did not receive any money at all from PkHonor, since PkHonor had kind of died out and there were no more donations. However, during that same period, I still kept the servers online to keep PkHonor going no matter what. It was a promise we had made to the community and it's one that I wanted to keep. I literally spent all the money I had into paying for the servers. At one point, I had about 70 dollars on my bank account and that was all I had - I was literally broke and I had to ask my parents for pocket money again to pay my daily expenses. I was even contemplating to lend money from my parents to keep paying for the servers, but thankfully it never came to that. Right at that point, we finally received donations again which could pay for the server and give me a bit of an income again. Ever since, we made enough money to pay for the servers and pay back all the money that I had spent on PkHonor during the second half of 2010. Though for all I know, PkHonor could have ended and I would never have seen a penny of all my money I had spent on PkHonor. It was a huge risk for me, but if I had to do it all over, I'd do the same thing. Because I believed in PkHonor, no matter what rough times it went through.
Right now, and for the past 2 years, I have made a decent earning through PkHonor. It's enough to pay for my studies, my housing and my daily expenses. All these are expenses which my parents would otherwise pay for. Since they are but simple farmers and have always had a tough time to make a living, I'm really glad I can help them out this way. And for that, I am extremely grateful towards all the people that have donated to PkHonor.
Q: Do you Copy & Paste some of the work that goes into Pkhonor, if so give an example.
A: Only on very rare occasions. The server itself is obviously based on an existing source (making a server from scratch would take years), but other than that I have written almost all the code in PkHonor myself. I would say about 98% of all the code that I have added or changed within PkHonor is written by either myself or Rapsey (Rapsey made everything that is related to database interaction as well as some complex algorithms).
Most of the code I had not written myself (and thus copy-pasted from somewhere else) was client-sided stuff. For example, the ancient curses interface, the quick prayer interface and the summoning interface are things that I had gotten from the interanet. Also the code to add the Godwars Dungeon map was something I hd not made myself.
Then again, in regards to interfaces, the people who post them on the internet usually just copy-paste them from an actual recent RuneScape client themselves. And whenever I copy-paste some code, I still need to integrate it into PkHonor and make sure everything is compatible with our client and server. So even when I get code elsewhere, I still need to rework it to actually make it work.
In the server, the only pieces of code I can remember having copy-pasted were about 5 lines to make cannons work, about 30 lines to make the construction skill work and 20 lines to get all the correct attack speed for all weapons (though maybe I forgot some stuff that I added a long time ago). Still, for cannons and construction, that was only the very basic, because I still had to code over 1000 lines for cannons, and thus far I've already written over 5,000 lines for construction. And at least another 5,000 lines of code will be added yet before construction will be ready.
I also sometimes look around the internet to solve certain problems that I encounter. But this is only on a rare occasion, and was mostly in the very beginning of my work at PkHonor.
The more I do myself, the more I understand how everything works (which also makes it easier to fix bugs and add new content later). It's also much more rewarding to have made everything yourself rather than getting it from somewhere else.
Q: Why don't you put more time into coding?
A: I'm not entirely sure what the question points to. Does it mean "why don't you spend more of your spare time working on PkHonor" or does it mean "why do you spend a lot of time on PkHonor doing non-coding related stuff"?
In response to the first question, I would like to point out that, like all people, I have the right to enjoy life and do whatever I like doing. After all, life is short so you have to be able to enjoy it. I believe I am entitled to have personal time, rather than being chained to my desk doing whatever other people ask of me. The very point of me doing this kind of work is so that I can choose when I work and how much I work. If people have a problem with that, then that's too bad for them. Furthermore, I also study at the same time, and especially during exam periods, I don't have the time to be working on PkHonor all that much. Especially during those periods, after having studied, I am not very motivated to spend whatever spare time I have left to code.
Though I do not blame anyone in the community for wanting me to work more. After all, the more I work, the more updates are brought to PkHonor and the more enjoyable the server is. And I fully understand this, but I also ask that you understand my position. I want to make PkHonor the best RSPS in existence, and this requires a tremendous amount of work, but I also want a healthy balance between real life and PkHonor. Something that was not always the case.
In the beginning of PkHonor, I spent an average of 10 hours a day, each day for a year, working on PkHonor. Not because I received a lot of money (as you read earlier, I didn't) but because it's one of those things I liked doing in my spare time. It was a challenge and it taught me a lot. Though on the other hand, it was also too much. I didn't have anything that looked like a life, was constantly stressed out (I had several arguments with Hamade during that period), and towards the community it created the false idea that the enormous amount of updates back then was 'normal' and was how it would always be. So now that I do have a life and spend less time on PkHonor, it creates the sense that I'm slacking, have become disinterested, don't care anymore, etc. But that's not true. I still care about PkHonor as much as I used to, I simply don't work as much on it anymore because I want to balance real life and PkHonor.
I admit that during the past 2 years, I have worked less than I did before. Mostly to balance my life, but also because there aren't a lot of challenges anymore, it's mostly just making new stuff that takes countless hours of coding. The actual coding has become less interesting for me, which doesn't really motivate me anymore. I really like challenges, I like to do things that put me to the test. That's probably the main reason I focus mostly on big projects, such as Nex, Hunter and Construction. Because they present me with technical challenges and difficulties I need to overcome. They keep me interested in coding.
Then again, even though the community enjoys big updates like hunter and construction, I am aware that they also want to see many small updates which don't take a lot of time. But to me, they're just countless hours of work. I have stated before - and still do - that I do what the community asks of me, but after doing the same stuff for three years on end, coding just becomes less fun. Right now, the most fun I have in smaller updates is that the community enjoys it. And I like it when people enjoy my work. But it's no more than that. To me, coding is just not as exciting as it used to be.
But despite that, I still do smaller updates. In the next update, there are several small additions and change to PkHonor, and I will keep adding more in the weeks to come. Because I know that you guys want them, and I don't want to let down. If I want to pursue my dream of making PkHonor the best RSPS in existence, working lots of hours on coding is something I just have to do.
And now that my exams are over, I have all the time I need to bring new updates. I know there haven't been a lot of updates during past months - heck, not even during the past year. I am aware that the community doesn't like that, and I aim to improve.
In response to the second question: I spend more than half of my time on PkHonor (probably like 60 - 80%) doing non-coding related stuff. These include replying to mails or PM's, reading and replying to forum posts, making forum threads and so forth. Even though I am in title the head programmer of PkHonor, I'm still its owner as much as Hamade is (even though he's the one who carries the official title). And with that come responsibilities. I have taken it to myself to take care of donations, donation problems, refunds and chargebacks. Mostly because I understand how the entire system of automatic donations works.
As for forum posts, mails and PM's, I believe that it's important to keep in touch with the community. One important thing about wanting to be the best RSPS is to offer a great customer service. Which means being there for your players. Another important thing is to know what they think, what they like and don't like and what they want. Because as a programmer, the main job is to satisfy the needs and wants of the community and make sure everyone can enjoy the game. This works best when talking to them and discussing things over forums, to work out everything to make sure everyone enjoys them.
Q: What gives you the motivation to wake up everyday and sit there and just code?
A: I kind of answered this question in the previous questions, but I will re-iterate shortly here.
During the first year of me working on PkHonor, I really enjoyed all the programming. Most of it was pretty new to me and it was exciting to add a ton of features and updates while learning tons of new stuff. Later on, I mostly did it because the players enjoy what I do. I really like it when people enjoy my work, which is currently - and has been for a long time - my main motivation to work for PkHonor. However, I admit that the extra income that it gives me is also a big motivation. I can really use the money to pay my expenses so my parents don't have to, and to build up some savings for later.
Q: How many exams do you have and how long do they last?
A: That differs every exam period (there are three periods, one in January, one in June and one in late August/early September). Last exam period, I had four exams, which lasted from the 3rd until the 15th of June. However, during the period March - June (especially during the second half of May), I also had to put a lot of work into a big project for college. Most of the time, I have six exams but not this time since we had a big-ass project instead.
Q: How many languages can you speak?
A: Technically three: Dutch (my own langauge), English (which I can speak almost as good as Dutch) and French. But that's only on a basic level. If you say something in French to me, I'll probably understand most of it but I may not be able to respond properly.
Q: What school are you in?
A: Right now, University College Ghent.
Q: What do you study exactly?
A: Professional Bachelor in Applied Computer science. It mostly involves coding, but also networking, databases, mathematics, french, english, bookkeeping, economy and management.
It's currently my fifth year in college. The first one and a half years, I was studying Academic Bachelor in Computer Science at the University Ghent (which is not the same as University College Ghent). This is also where I first met Rapsey. However, for both of us, the mathematics were too hard (you need basically to be a complete mathematics nerd and genius in order to pass those courses - which I am not).
After that, I quit and I didn't want anything to do with computer science anymore, so then I studied one and a half years of Geography. Although I found it to be interesting, I became aware that whatever job I'd have later with my degree in Geography would be boring as fuck (either science or education), so I quit that to continue Computer Science. But not at the university anymore, because the maths there were just too hard. So I took it a step down (Professional Bachelor in Applied Computer Science instead of Academical Bachelor in Computer Science) and I've been passing all my courses ever since.