I remember the day I started toying around with the idea of an online map database that actually made it easy to find maps for games like Unreal Tournament. My own map collection at the time consisted of a thousand or so UT maps that I had painstakingly gathered through a few years of surfing around the various community mapping sites.
You might assume a good number of those maps were not even worth the download, and you'd be right. Many of those not-so-great maps only made it into my collection because the map sites at the time primarily had screenshots for only the most popular and well-known maps which made finding anything else of potential enjoyment a challenge.
Out of frustration came the idea for a new kind of mapping site, and it began as just a few roughed-out HTML page prototypes that I shared with a few people in the community to see if they thought it had merit. It took over a year of working in my free time to hack out a few thousand lines of code before my dream map catalog site was born...
Well, not exactly.
It wasn't perfect. Far from it. After working on the site for so long (and trying to keep everything under wraps since a new version of another popular mapping site was in progress) I finally pushed a working, but not quite polished, version of the site live. The code was a bit nappy, the HTML/CSS was about the same, and after exposing the site to hoards of new users for the first time, more than a few bugs were plainly obvious.
This coming November, it'll be four years that Mapraider has been running, and I can't complain. It has grown into the beast that I had hoped it would. It works great for the most part and it has been well-received by the community.
One thing is certain however — four years of exposure to thousands of visitors will teach you a lot of things, and that's where this blog begins (which, by the way has a RSS Feed).
During the last 8-10 months, my mind has been occupied heavily with thoughts of revising Mapraider. Actually, more like a major overhaul. From shortly after its initial launch, I've amassed an impressive list of new ideas, feedback from members, bugs and creative ways to promote the site. Many of those ideas have finally begun to lay the foundation for the site's update.
I've decided to blog the course of development this time. Mostly as an exercise for myself, but also for those who might be interested in the status of Mapraider's life cycle or even what goes into developing a site like it. I won't be divulging all of the surprises the new version of the site will bring, but you will definitely get an inside scoop, lots of previews hinting at what is to come and a chance to voice your opinion during the midst of it all.