Yeah, I didn't believe it either. I had to look up when my first article here was posted. Back then I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but after 75 publications, including an 8-part fictional and a poor attempt at a comic, I can safely say it's been quite a ride.
I first started writing articles about clans for Runehead. They were attempting to become a fully-fledged fansite with all the properties of one, rather than stay on as a highscores database. This included player-written articles, and I happened to be a clan leader. It wasn't long before I was recruited to start writing.
I'm still not entirely sure what happened back then, but Duke Freedom was the one who got me out of Runehead and on the Panel at Tip.it. This is where the fun truly began.
Why? Because of you, really. Few communities are able to scrutinize as thoroughly as the one you're in right now. It is something that has been shown in many controversial topics, and it is probably one of the attributes that allowed me to continue to write for all this time.
I did only a few of them, but articles relating to the economy in general are always good for a bit of discussion, as well as a lot of viewers. Of course, this is to be expected when you talk about the money in people's pocket.
The same thing, discussion—and viewers—wise, could be said about bots. Back when there was no such thing as a company that actively tried to eradicate them; they were considered an integral part of the game and its economy. People lined up overwhelmingly on both sides of the debate on whether or not they were a good thing or not.
I've also done a good number of articles on how the RuneScape player behaves, both individually and as a group. It is when you hold up a mirror to the people themselves when they start to get really defensive. About halfway through these five years, things got too dicey on the forums and a "Don't attack the writer, attack the article" policy was needed to prevent a full-scale flamewar from happening.
I'll be honest with you. I liked those ferocious debates where people got off the fence. The fire that comes from people's fingertips can clearly be read between the lines, and while some of it devolved into shouting matches, the underlying criticism has helped me a lot as a writer. Though civility has returned to the forums, I'd like to think that my articles can still stir people like that.
But you still have to be careful what you write about.
When you write about something specific in the game, your choices are very limited. Either you write about a new update that is already being discussed and dissected on the forums, or you write about something old that only a few people still have an interest for. Either way you're going to need a previously unexplored angle to look at your subject in order to make your article Times-worthy, rather than a glorified forumpost.
That is why I couldn't possibly write more than one article a month. Inspiration is rare, and the time to develop that spark into a fiery argument is even rarer. But sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, it hits you.
A billboard, a song title, a scene from a movie, or even just a mate butchering a proverb can be enough to inspire a brilliant article, as gauged by your own feedback.
Of course, sometimes Jagex hands you a topic to write about on a silver platter. The second the Squeal of Fortune got its buyable spins, people everywhere were practically cheering me on to write a piece about it. Similarly this happened with the coming of 07-servers.
And although the Times is not without some old scars (Jagex requesting articles to be pulled, interviews with controversial people, etc), they do add character. I can see this in the articles of my colleagues as well. While only a few have ever served up a stint as long as I have, it's never the quantity that mattered.
Ever since I first started to write, I saw the quality of the Times on average go up. Yes there have been some bad ones, but also some excellent pieces. Strangely, every new batch of writers coming in doesn't seem to lower the standard at all, even when we started to publish multiple articles a week.
I'm quite certain that, judging by the grandeur of the announcements of future developments, there's going to be plenty to write about in the foreseeable future. All I can do is hope to keep up with it all. After all, where else can public opinion so distilled and concentrated reach so many people?