When I started TechRaptor in 2013, I wanted to create a website that was fair, balanced, and, above all, true to its readers. We focus on quality content, and unlike some of our competitors, you’re not going to see any copy-pasted content or half-assed articles on our site. We put effort and manpower behind every article, and I’m proud of that. I hope that, as a reader, you’re happy with the content you’re getting, too.
In 2016, we made a bold move, something I never would have imagined in 2013. We launched a successful Kickstarter to fund the redesign of our website—the single greatest expense we’ve ever made.
The Kickstarter was successful, but my followup has not been. Let’s be honest here.
The rewards are in their original packaging, waiting to be sorted and shipped. That’s my failing, and not my team’s. I should have done this last year when it all came in, and while I have plenty of excuses I can fall on, none of them are acceptable.
The biggest failing, I think, was our execution of a membership platform. With three different Partner Managers, numerous “restarts” of the program, and missed deadlines over and over again for codes—our membership program has been a joke.
I’ll explain more in a bit, but that’s why we’re shutting down (new, non-Patreon) paid membership until we relaunch the site in a few months. Current users are unaffected, and free accounts can still be created if you’d like to stay up to date and receive an email when the new site is live.
Those are the two things I’ll be focusing on in this post : The Kickstarter and Pack Membership. So, let’s hop right into it.
There’s really nothing I can say here other than I’ve dropped the ball. I plan on getting the rewards shipped in the next few weeks, with my ever-supportive wife’s help, before we relaunch the site.
If your address has changed, please contact me – membership[at]techraptor.net
This is hard for me. I had such high hopes for what we wanted to do, and it just fell flat. Part of that was that in many ways we’re stretched thin (budget, pay, etc), while in others the backend just couldn’t support us.
Codes – When you have a large number of people to send unique codes to, there’s not an easy way to do it without shelling out some significant money to a third-party company, and none of them would fit in our budget. So, we had to do them manually. One. At. A. Time. This, coupled with some partners not sending codes in time, led to incredibly delayed retail codes frequently.
Forums – Once again, WordPress kicked my legs out from under me. I tried a few different forum systems, but every time I integrated it with membership, things went haywire; in some cases, it was even promoting members to admins, which isn’t acceptable. In the end, we gave up when we started the process of building on a new platform.
Podcasting – This was a hard one, just because we want to build the right platform for all our readers to enjoy, so we delayed it until that time. Now, we’re building this into our new site.
Ad-Free – Thankfully, this always worked. A few snippets of code was really all it took.
We’re leaving WordPress, a platform we’ve been on for over 5 years now, and building a whole new site on a new CMS (Content Management System). This new site is going to be feature-rich and everything our readers have always wanted, so let me break down what will change for members.
Types of Membership: We’re cutting this down to Free / Premium. That’s it. Simple, and Easy.
Pricing: Prices are changing drastically. More on this soon.
Features: See this chart for some details. Subject to adds/removes
(New) Following: Follow games, developers, publishers, genres, and authors to get an e-mail every time we publish a new article about that topic.
Forums: Forums will be fully integrated with the new site. 100% working at launch.
User Review Scores: This is not yet set in stone, but something we’re discussing adding so that users can also add their own 1-10 score to reviews, with the user score displayed near the TechRaptor score.
Podcasts: Get podcasts a few days early. We may possibly add this for some video types too.
Retailer Codes: Instead of via e-mail, these will be redeemable on TechRaptor, similar to how Humble reveals codes.
Other site changes:
Awards: Our Awards articles will be changing, and every game page will have a “Trophy Case” in which you’ll find the awards a game has been given, whether that was at an event or just an end of year awards list.
Game Pages: Improved formatting and partial display on linked articles!
Improved “homepages”: All-New Deals homepage, improved Games homepage with new features, and more!
Videos: Video pages are brand new. It’s just the video, a short description, and a link to watch on YouTube. Easy peasy.
More to come!
Wait, Wait, Wait – didn’t you redo the site in 2016?
Yes, and no.
Essentially, we redid the front end of the site, everything that readers see in terms of graphics and design. The back end, WordPress, stayed largely the same and we added on a number of functions via plugins. I’ve come to refer to this as “bolting on,” as while at first, it worked fine, over time it’s caused issues.
WordPress is a GREAT CMS for starting out, but once you start adding more and more features, you begin to run into issues over time with them not playing well, and for us WordPress’ updates began wreaking havoc on our editor and theme functionality.
This is why we started building, from the ground up, a new back end (and front end) on a different platform with every feature we ever wanted in mind first. The big difference this time around is that for every feature we want, we’re building it by hand—not grabbing a plugin to do all the work for us.
Building this ourselves has really made me rethink the reader experience. How can I improve it, do people actually use x/y/z, and what features would people love to have? I’m excited about everything new we’re doing and hope to give an experience that’s 200% better than you have now.
If you want to know when the site goes live, please create a free account here and you’ll receive an email when it goes live!
What happens for Backers?
Here’s the important bit: how we’re going to handle Kickstarter Backers on the new site, and it’s pretty simple:
- Hatchling Tier – 6 Months of TechRaptor Premium
- Pack Runner Tier – 1 year of TechRaptor Premium
- Shirt Tier – 6 Months of TechRaptor Premium
- Pack Hunter Tier & Above – 12 months of TechRaptor Premium
Essentially, while we made an effort and, delivered on for a time, the rewards we promised, I never felt we “fulfilled” our promise. So to all the backers that are Hatchling Tier and above, you’ll receive a code at launch for one of the above to activate on your account after you’ve logged into TechRaptor.
A couple notes: Current Pack Runner/Hunter Accounts have been changed to Pack Hunter to remain ad-free. All Patreon Patrons will continue to get benefits for linking their accounts to their TechRaptor account, and this functionality will both continue and improve for the new site.
We’ve reported on failed Kickstarters that don’t deliver a fair number of times over the year, and I’ve never wanted to be one of those. With this new site infrastructure that’s fully customized rather than bolted-on like we did before, I feel we’ll actually be ABLE to deliver upon what we promised and go beyond what we promised as well.
I want TechRaptor to be a great site, and I hope that you see our content as something worth continuing to support. We may stumble, but we’ll always get up and drive forward.
Let me personally apologize to all our Backers, Patreons, and supporters for what is ultimately my failing. We’ve stumbled, but we’ll keep driving forward, determined to deliver the site we promised.
Rutledge Daugette, Founder of TechRaptor