AFTER BEING AWARDED AS SITE
OF THE YEAR
e are very
pleased to have with us Artimidor Federkiel, owner and Webmaster of The
Santharian Dream, that won our Content Site of the Year-award 2003...
- Artimidor, what made you start building a fantasy website?
Inn of Wonders Content Site of the Year Award 2003
Well, why not? Fantasy has always
been something which interested me personally. I especially like role playing
games taking place in medieval settings, which try to simulate a whole world and
not only put some evil guys in dungeons Series like "Ultima" for example proved
that there is much more to it than just monster-bashing in a role playing game.
At "Ultima" people created a world which was based on philosophical values of
morality, there existed whole cultures with historical traditions, with
libraries full of interesting books to read and so on. "Ultima" seemed alive.
When I played "Ultima VI" for the
first time (I skipped I to V), I was impressed with the interactive world,
representing a whole book to play, where the story itself wasn't really the most
important thing anymore - and you could play for months, not only for a few
hours. I really enjoyed the dense atmosphere of these games, and when I read
Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" for the first time at the age of 22 a while later,
I was even more convinced that the building of a realistic fantasy world with
the help of some computer tools would be an interesting challenge for me.
I started with writing first dialogues for NPC characters and later on to
program tools in order to develop such dialogues and play through them (you can
download one of these tools at Santharia by the way). Much later I started to
draw maps and to write a novel taking place in this world while at the same time
adding content to the history of the lands etc. And then there came the day when
I thought it would be a good idea to put everything in a more organized form at
a webpage so that I could administer all the stuff more efficiently. And soon
after that I came up with the even better idea to make the world designing
process a public one, allowing others to participate in adding details and
variety to the world. - And the rest is Santharian history.
If I look at your site it
reminds me a lot of the greatest fantasy authors of
our time, are you in any way influenced by any of them?
Artimidor: Thanks for
the flowers. Well, the Santharian Dream is defined as a fantasy world creation
project in the style of J.R.R. Tolkien, so it's obvious that you'll find a lot
of direct or indirect influences of Tolkien in Santharia, paying tribute to the
master. You can see this in the way we describe halflings, orcs, elves etc., who
have a lot of things in common with Tolkien concepts. Tolkien is also known to
have worked diligently on details of his world, and I think this acribicy also
reflects in the Santharian world design.
Of course many people contributing in Santharian world building are well versed
in fantasy in general, by reading books of famous fantasy authors (Raymond E.
Feist, Robert Jordan, Terry Brooks, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, Tad Williams
or Terry Pratchett to name just a few) and thus may be influenced by them as
well to a certain degree. Other influences may come from existing role playing
games or RPG systems like AD&D. However, originality is of major importance in
Santharia, and though influences here and there are obvious and prove fruitful
in some cases, Santharia develops only unique concepts even though they may be
inspired by the works of others.
(smiles) My pleasure... Now, where
do you get your inspiration in making these lands, creatures, spells...?
The world is full of inspiration, isn't it? Just keep your eyes open, listen to
music, read, go to the cinema, daydream, or just make experiences with life in
general - good or bad - and see what you can learn from all these things in
order to apply them in a fantasy setting. You should aim towards the goal that
the result will turn out as comprehensible for others and as realistic as
possible and fit into the world. Of course you need a vision, some imagination
and creativity for that and the will to do historical researches at topics where
you aren't that firm. And then: Just do it! Along with the help of others, who
will comment on posted ideas at the Santharian Development Board, I'm sure nice
entries will develop, adding more pieces to the huge monumental site, which the
Santharian Dream represents.
What is in your opinion the key element
in making an excellent content site?
content perhaps? (grins) No, it's the team of course, which provides this
content. Without a team sticking together for a longer period of time to work on
something they all enjoy, you won't get a large quantity of content. Without a
team you might come up with a bunch of high quality entries perhaps, but this
won't make an excellent content site, I assume. On the other hand quantity
doesn't mean quality as we all know, so the difficult part of course is to take
initiative (in your function as webmaster) whenever it is due, to acquire key
members who are willing to share responsibility, to guide creativity in
necessary directions and finally to help each other wherever you can to make
things better together. Multiply that with 5 years and you'll approximately get
what you can now see realized as the Santharian Dream.
Yes, I can see that can't be easy...
What are the things you have to pay
Artimidor: Too many to
list here. Really. A completely non-commercial project like the Santharian
Dream, where people from all over the world participate, who have never seen
each other (or at least mostly) and who all have their own ways, intentions and
ideas, is very difficult to maintain. It's difficult to keep things running
smoothly and even more difficult to make everything better and more enjoyable,
which on the other hand is all necessary to motivate contributers and make
substantial progress with the project. As a webmaster of such a gigantic project
you need dedication to your vision, a tough hide, lots of time and to make the
right decisions at the appropriate time - or at least mostly. As this all is
pretty contradictory, I guess I can sum it up with: you need to be something,
you definitely won't be able handle. But I also think that it's only human to
Hmm... Finally a last question: How
important is winning awards for you?
Artimidor: It's positive
to get some sort of recognition for the hard work everybody does here at the
Santharian Dream, as all these contributions aren't to be taken for granted.
People participating in the project are sacrificing a lot of spare time to make
something enormous happen, so I'm thankful for everyone who thinks it is worth
to give an award to Santharia, whether these are award giving sites or people
who give personal awards.
Much more important though than the awards themselves are - at least in my
opinion as webmaster - to get comments and criticism of what people see as well
done and what they think they would like to have improved at the site. Only if
things which could be made better are pointed out we can try to find new ways to
realize them - a good website never reaches a standstill, but always tries to
iron out smaller and bigger problems and inconsistencies, and at the same time
Thank you, Artimidor, and I wish you and your wonderful site all the best in the
Thanks as well for the award, you're welcome.
INTERVIEW WITH UWSAG AFTER BEING SELECTED
AS TOP 10 SITE OF THE MONTH OF SEPTEMBER 2003
Founder and Webmaster of the Santharian Dream.
hat got you
started in website design?
idea of bringing people from all over the world together to start working on a
fantasy project of the larger scale, which has never been realized before in so
much detail. You would never be able to accomplish all these feats you can now
experience on the Santharian Dream if you’d work alone or only with the help of
some friends you know personally and who share your interests. The internet
medium fascinated me in this respect, and so I started off back in 1998/99 with
some lousy HTML skills to see how far I could get, and if there’d be some guys
who’d like to join me in such an unusual endeavor.
What do you hope to accomplish with your website?
above. It was the idea right from the start to establish a platform for writers,
artists and world developers, regardless of their nationality, skin color,
belief, etc., who work together on something they have always dreamed about to
realize themselves. Initially it was planned that people would help building
more background for the novel I started to write back then, but the orientation
of the site has changed dramatically in the course of time, and I’m happy that a
dedicated team has formed. I can’t say what it is what will stand on the end of
the development process, as developing and making things even more perfect is
the heart of Santharia.
What advice would you give to new webmasters?
on the project. But always try to stay unique in whatever you. Make sure that
your work is viewable on different browsers and different screen resolutions.
Make things easy to navigate, while still having as much content as you can
handle to satisfy your visitors. Graphic intense or not – take advantage of
graphic programs like Photoshop
for professional site design, and if
Flash is appropriate,
use it efficiently. Don’t overdo things, though. There are some script
treasuries out there like
Dynamic Drive –
check those out, I’m sure you’ll find something useful for your taste as well:)
What was the biggest problem you faced with your
maintain such a gigantic project, keep developers motivated, remove
inconsistencies and define clear goals, which are feasible to be realized. And
while facing all these problems still have enough time for innovations and
collecting ideas on what could still be done better.
If you had to do it all over again, what would you do
Artimidor: Well, a
project develops, that’s the fun part of it. So one always learns in the course
of time, and this is something you can’t plan right from the start. It is
essential to go through this process, as most often you can only make things
better if you’ve done them not so well before. So there are only a few things I
regret concerning webdesign issues. If I’d start over again I would use for
example stylesheets right from the start and no dark page backgrounds, as this
hinders you from using shadow effects, which often add a lot to make a website
What plans do you have for the future?
Artimidor: Make a
nice start perfect, or at least try to. Well, that’s it basically. At a project
like the Santharian Dream with 2000+ pages there are always things to do,
believe me. On the one hand work needs to be done concerning the improvement of
existing material (content and design) and on the other hand we plan of course
to go where no man has ever gone before... (*familiar music fading in here*)
uhm... in webdesign and fantasy project terms that is;) This means for example
more occasional flash stuff where it is appropriate (interactive map displaying
tribes, resources, historical developments etc.), completion of the singleplayer
RPG we’re currently developing, add more extras like original Santharian
screensavers and audio recorded music for downloading, work on more interaction
with the visitors and so on. And keep it all completely free of course. - But
these are only a few ideas I personally would like to see realized. Most
important at the Santharian Dream are the participants of the project. The
direction we decide to go together will determine further plans for the future.
And as far as I know Santharia, we’ll continue to try to realize the impossible,
What else do you like to do?
Watching DVDs and football matches, playing single player role playing games on
the PC, enjoying Monty Python nonsense, daydreaming, writing poetry and getting
philosophical for no apparent reason.
Thanks for taking the time for the interview!
No problem. It has been my pleasure.