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Currently working on age-of-aincrad.com

Created at 10/19/2020

Age of Aincrad is an MMOARPG currently in development. It is a community project, consisting of people who were inspired to create a game like Sword Art Online (which comes from the anime with that same name).

In the fictional game, you play as a character and do quests, and the normal RPG stuff; there are a ton of resources about it online. Just search for it. The game is played via a device called "Nerve Gear" in the anime and the whole plot builds upon an intentional flaw in the design of this fictional device. But I won't spoil anything :)

But this article is not about the game, it is about what I have to do with Age of Aincrad: their new website.

The Beginning

It all started after I finished watching all available seasons of SAO (three at the time, "Alicization" was not out yet) and then looked for games like SAO. I found this project called "Age of Aincrad" and thought to myself: "Hey, that is the name of that flying castle thingy! Maybe it's related to SAO!".

As it turns out: yes, yes it is related to SAO. The whole game idea was inspired by SAO. At the time, this was huge for me. My favourite anime coming to real life. I was excited.

I quickly realized it was still in early development and nothing playable was available. BUT, their website offered a form to send in your application. Since I wanted this game to be as good as can be, and I am sufficient in programming to help out, I decided to send in my details and wait for a response. This was in 2018.

First Contact

In January of 2020, the community manager of the AoA asked me on Discord if I was still interested in joining the team.

Leo asking if I was still interested

Of course I was still interested and started chatting about what I could do. On their discord server (join now!) I was given the "Staff" rank and was greeted by the other team members and the community as a new web developer.

A Big Task

The website was going to get an update and eventually, I got involed in working on it. Another web developer from the team, XenoWarrior, had already started working on a Vue.js site, following the mockup by Zenro45 (a member of the art team). I thought it looked great!

XenoWarrior had to work on the game and so I took the lead in the website development, at least temporarily. From what he already built, I started working on the required features so we can get closer to publishing it.

The required features where:

  • a contact form
  • an application form
  • FAQs
  • news articles
  • a gallery
  • user system (login/registration)
  • automatic deployment (CI/CD)
  • forum account linking

Additionally, we had to import data from the old website. With a bit of Trello-magic to organize the ToDos, we got to work.

Early Development

Since a frontend for the new website already exists, we needed a backend to manage all the data (like applications and inquiries). Adding a backend after the frontend is quite unusual, so this was a learning experience for me. I started looking into what we could use as a "headless" Content Management System (CMS); headless meaning it's got no frontend included, like a wordpress instance would. We needed something to give us a management or administration interface while providing an API to the outside world for our frontend to access it.

After comparing different options for headless CMSes, we settled on Strapi. The other options offered similar functionalities, but Strapi had a fancier admin interface with a nice WYSIWYG editor. The competitors where: Strapi, Directus and Cockpit.

After Strapi was set up, I was able to start working on importing the old data and connecting certain features of the frontend to the backend (like loading news articles or the gallery).

Current State

Today, October 19th, 2020, the website is almost ready from my point of view. It still lacks a few features, but we could publish it in the near future and add features via updates later on. All members I showed the new website to were just as satisfied as I am with it.

I will definitely post another update here on my blog when it launches.

Until then, stay safe out there and thanks for reading!

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