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History of We Iz Orcs

by Avian

Wanting to get the history of this great website written down before I forget about it completely, I thought I'd do this article to mark the seventh birthday of We Iz Orcs on february 18. 2007. it has truly been a labour of love (and sweat, curses and whisky) and if I have anything to say about it, there will be many more birthdays to come.

 

How it all began

Back in the old days of the late nineties, it seemes like everyone and their kid brother were making their own Warhammer fansites. This was before all this forum craze had really kicked off and there was some really great sites around, most of whom are now gone. I had taken a rudimentary html-course and decided that I wanted to have my own site, where I could post some stuff I had written. Thus I signed up for a free account on the now deceased GWUniverse.com and uploaded some files. This was february 18. 2000. The content at that time was quite spare and mostly limited to goofy stuff, some mini-games, a few songs and some other oddball stuff. As a token effort at usefulness, there were also some scenarios and several more have been added over the years. During that first year, I started several projects I later realised were hopelessly optimistic, such as an attempt to run a review of all new GW minis and an analysis of the composition of all armies fielded in White Dwarfs battle reports. After a while I realised that this did not suit my style of doing updates, which is short bursts of hectic activity followed by long periods of losing interest and doing something else instead. This is a tip for all you other people who consider doing your own website as well: Any idea that forces you to do regular updates of soemthing will quickly become more of a chore than a pleasure.

During those first months, I also got to know a guy in Scotland called Iain who also played Orcs & Goblins and had come across my site. Iain was great for bouncing ideas off of and though I never met him, we sent a great deal of emails back and worth. This was also a good thing in another way, because in November 2000, GWUniverse.com went offline permanently. I never heard from them again and never did find out what caused the shutdown - possibly GW did not like them and forced them to close, or maybe they just went broke. This would not have been so bad, if not for the fact that about the same time my hard drive also crashed and I lost everything on it. I don't remember which of the two that happened first, though I have been repeatedly cursing myself that I did not make more backups after the first thing crashed, because several articles on that site are now lost forever. Fortunately, though, Iain was able to recover a lot of stuff stored in the cache on his PC and that saved several articles I could never otherwise have been bothered to rewrite. Who knows, maybe I will revive the Stomp on a Skink game some time in the future.

 

The Portent period

From november 2000 to march 2001 the site was down, but then I had an offer to host it on the (now also deceased Portent.net). This was very useful and especially their admin, Nick, was very helpful with questions on coding and stuff which I was only gradually becoming aquainted with. Nick also hinted that the colours used on the site were somewhat garish, something I did not understand until quite some time later, when I got a new monitor and it became apparent that the old one was stuck at a much darker setting than normal. As a result, I swapped the background and divider lines to the much calmer green I have on the site now. The first few months on Portent was mostly devoted to restoring old stuff and continuing the (hopeless) project og doing monthly review of stuff which nobody probably read or cared about anyway. Some new things were added, but it was mostly ficting (i.e. lots of work for limited usefulness). Not surprisingly, I got bored with the whole thing and from mid-2001 to early 2003 there were no updates at all.

From february 2003, though, lots of stuff got added, in a quite high tempo. The things that I have really become famous for, namely the Design a Unit rules and the Fluffiness test (much to my surprise, people actually use this thing). I was single, perhaps that was why I had so much time. The Design rules in particular are something I am really proud of and have put a lot of work into. They originated, I guess, from a desire to prove wrong those who said that the designers did not price units according to a set formula without actually having any proof that this was so. It must be said, though, that while it seemed apparent (at least to me) that there was a system that was used at the start of 6th edition, that system was more and more abandoned over the years until we have now arrived at the stage where it seems that the designers use their gut feeling more than anything else when working out prices. The Design page, which started quite basic, soon grew to cover a whole host of different types of units. I also started uploading pics to the site, though it took quite some time until my picture-taking skills were much to speak of, and only in the last year or so have I been able to take decent pictures with a digicam.

 

Where we are today

Portent eventually went under in the spring of 2005 after having gone through a long period of server trouble caused by the extreme number of people posting there, and another downtime in the history of this site followed. I don't know why it didn't occur to me to move We Iz Orcs to my university webspace sooner, but when I was finally forced to haul ass, it seemed like the logical choice. The site will stay here for a while and then I hope to get a domain of my own somewhere. The good thing about the uni server was that I could start running php-scrips there, something I had never been able to before. I had gotten some experience with (slightly) more advanced website coding over the years by running another couple of websites and this site benefited from this. One of the main additions early in this period was the Combat Calculator, which lets you pair up two units (with a large amount of available options) and have them fight out a round of combat. While not a simulation as such, the calculator only deals with averages and thus you get odd situations like half a model fighting back. Once again, a good deal of the motivation behind it was that I was fed up with forum posts using insufficient math skills in an attempt to show how effective a unit was. At least using my calculator, people could get a decent idea of what units were capable of.

In mid-2006 came the change that resulted in what should really be called the third version of this site. For a long time I had been considering incorporating more advanced coding in all the articles, and convert the majority of them (eventually all of them) to php, which would make it much easier to maintain. I had initially been daunted by the amount of work that needed to be done, but eventually I figured that it was time to smarten things up. Thus CSS was used all around, a suitable number of functions were written and stuffed into a script where the other pages would call them and things started looking a lot better. A lot of work, certainly, but it was rewarding. The work continued at a more leisurly pace throughout 2006 and hasn't really been finished at the time I write this. Tightening up the layout of the site was a major issue and I had been fed up by the messy front page where it was unreasonably difficult to find things. I also added a counter and was pleasantly surprised at how fast it ticked away. Initially there were something like thirty five hits per day, and at the moment we are at about twice that number. Go me!

New from the autumn of 2006 is a large number of tactics articles, initially for Ogre Kingdoms armies, but soon a number of Orcs & Goblins articles also showed up. These, along with reviews of the new 7th edition rulebook and the new Orcs & Goblins army book, have proved to be very popular and that is of course flattering. The tactics articles are a bit odd in that they were made because I am lazy and got fed up with answering the same tactics questions over and over - now I could write a couple of short sentences and point to a lengty article on the matter, which should save some work in the long run. In case anyone is interested, here is how stuff gets out of my head and onto the website: Usually I get an idea for something I want to write about, then I plan out an article for some days, where I chew on some points to include and how best to present them. Then I start writing it all down, usually over an evening or two at home, but sometimes a bit at a time here and there, in between other things I do. Terry Pratchett once said that writing was the most fun thing anyone can do by themselves and I certainly agree with that. The article is generally written in a html-format, using either HotMetal (home) or Microsoft FrontPage (uni) and then later converted to php and functions and other coding added, using a program called EditPlus. I could have added more of the content of this site into an SQL-database, as I did with those two other pages, but usually I write things offline (at home) and then transfer it to my uni website later, which makes it more convenient to use have php-pages. All the pages run a function at the start, which adds the formating and things, and another at the end, which adds references to other articles.

 

Plans for the future

For the near future the plan is to add some articles on painting and converting models, as I feel that my skills at painting and taking pictures of minis have finally reached the level where showing them off can be done without too much embarassment. There are some more tactics articles I want to do, but the pace for that will go down by quite a bit. Then there is getting all of the old articles over to the new format and adding more sub-sections to this page. I have a vague plan to eventually do away with direct links to the articles from the front page and just have a list of sub-sections, which should make it even easier to browse. And then there are a decent number of half-finished Ogre articles of various types I never got around to finishing, because I was too busy with the new greenskins.

And then of course there is the general goal of being the best Orcs & Goblins site anywhere and making sure everyone knows about it!
(If you Google for "orcs & goblins", my site is currently the fifty-first hit you get - I intend to do better!)

 

Look, ma, I'm famous!

Or at least referred to on Warhammer sites around the world. I often like to do searches for other people linking to or mentioning my articles, and below is a selection of different ones I have found:

The first one is in english from http://daboyzateam.proboards77.com:
Avian, a long time player and forum poster has put up a very solid review of 7th ed (his local store has an advance copy)
http://folk.ntnu.no/tarjeia/avian/misc/seventh.htm
A very interesting read!

German, from http://www.tabletopwelt.de:
Damit Kampfrechner (http://www.stud.ntnu.no/~tarjeia/avian/calculations/unit_combat.php)
ist zwar eigentlich für Einheiten, klappt aber auch so.

Something in Czeck, from www.hofyland.cz:
Obsáhlá recenze nového army booku (Avian, anglicky).

And something in finnish, from www.sotavasara.net:
Tervehdys!
Turnausjärjestäjän roolissa pohdimme kollegoideni kanssa mahdollisuutta käyttää ainakin osassa skenarioista tai jopa koko turnauksessa ns. Avian-magiasysteemiä: http://www.stud.ntnu.no/~tarjeia/avian/rules/winds_of_magic.htm
Systeemin idea lyhykäisesti on, että velhot eivät generoi tiettyä määrää noppia, vaan noppien määrä heitetään satunnaisesti. Kannattaa lukea tuon URL:n takaa lisätietoja, itse säännöt ovat aika lyhyet.
Itse näkisi ko. systeemin houkuttelevana siinä mielessä, että magia muuttuisi arvoituksellisemmaksi. On totta, että heavy-magit on edelleen niskan päällä, mutta nyt pienellä onnella ja kahdella kakkos-tason maagillakin voisi jo tehdä jotain.
Kysyisinkin nyt erityisesti kokemuksi ko. systeemistä. Oletteko käyttäneet sitä ja minkälaisilla lopputuloksilla? Muutenkin avaan vapaan keskustelun aiheesta "Avian-magiasysteemi turnauksissa" Kertokaa mielipiteenne, voitte päästä vaikuttamaan tulevan turnauksen sääntöihin!
P.S. Jos joku ystävällinen moderaattori viitsisi luoda pollin kysymykseen "Avian-magiasysteemi turnauksissa?" Vaihtoehdot: Kyllä, kaikissa skenarioissa; Kyllä, osassa skenarioista; Ei ollenkaan. Kiitos jo etukäteen!

I belive this is spanish from http://miarroba.com:
Bueno aquí os dejo un resumen del libro hecho por Avian de Warseer: está interesante
http://folk.ntnu.no/tarjeia/avian/news/orc_armybook.php

And something from http://game9.2ch.net where I am not even sure of the language:

 

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