The first release is not actually a game or a book, but this website.
Let me explain. When I first moved to the Greater Manchester area and worked in Manchester city centre, I became quite obsessed with the history of Factory Records. How they ran their business along anarcho-syndicate lines, and how some their of releases weren’t actually records but ventures important to the label’s owners. So, for example, Fac 01 is a poster advertising a club night that they used to run, where various bands associated with the label played. Similarly, D101-01 is this website (and associated blogs), and D101-02 is my convention attendance at Continuum 2008 (which I’ll cover in my next blog post in this series).
The start of D101’s web presence was a Livejournal.com* blog, which I started when I started planning what D101 Games would be and, more specifically, what Monkey, which was going to be my first release, was going to look like.
In 2008 as things got more serious with books actually being for sale, being a web developer/programmer as my day job at the time, I signed up with a hosting company. I created a WordPress Multi-Site – which is still the bedrock of the site** and hosts all the sub-blogs (including this one) and domains like openquestrpg.com. This multi-site approach has let me blog about various games and themes (for fantasy, see my long-running The Sorcerer Under the Mountain blog), which is a good marketing tool and a bunch of fun to boot.
Other big changes to the website over the years
Changing to D101Games.com. Being proud of being a British Game Designer and because it was cheap as chips, the original release of the website had a .co.uk domain name. But business sense prevailed, and since the .com domain gets much more views, I eventually about 2009 moved over.***
Div Theme. I’m not a graphic designer, so Elegant Theme’s Div for WordPress gives me all sorts of nice responsive layout controls, so it works with mobile devices and tablets without me doing anything, and a nice inbuilt page builder so funky page layouts are a breeze.
Woocommerce. An Open-source and free shopping cart for WordPress. This has allowed me to run my own web store quite profitably and do direct to customer sales, which before 2016 I could only do at conventions.
Mail-Chimp. I use the free version of this, and it lets me build up email lists to announce new releases/Kickstarters etc. This is why I don’t have to do Farcebook to promote what I do with D101 😉
Having a well functioning and well-constructed website has been a core business activity from day one. More important than having a Facebook page. It’s also a focus. So much of what I do is through the web, from producing the books through print on demand sites like Lulu.com. So in retrospect its only fitting that this site is D101’s first release 🙂
*To my great surprise, my d101 games blog still exists over there, but I won’t link to it because Livejournal.com, which was a happy little internet start-up that began as a bunch of friends running it off a couple of servers in San Fransico, has long gone down the toilet as it was sold on. All the content was migrated over here long ago.
**D101 Games is hosted with a Manchester company called 34sp.com. They are a great little outfit with great service, and although they don’t officially support WordPress Multisite, they have gone out of their way to do so over the years.
***once I stopped using d101games.co.uk it was quickly snapped up by a company that holds domain names that have been used in the hope that someone will pay them zillions of dollars. At one time, rather worrying, it had a mock site that was all about gambling and poker. Not sure why? In the hope that I’d buy it to stop them damaging my business’ image? Or simply to attract purchasers with the whole “games” thing. Oh yes, and having “games” in my URL gets it banned via BT’s Strict parental controls.