Read about the site!Email me!Please donate! I'm so hungry!Some of my favorite websitesLink to Rail! using these nifty link buttons!Rail! StoreBob the Ball - Episode OneCheck out Rail!'s latest featuresSee some of my awesome Flash animations - Just kidding, they suck.Rants, reviews, and articlesPlay some games!Listen to some MP3's
 

Would you like to read about how this site got started? If so, you're in the right place. This is where I describe Rail!'s beginnings and changes throughout the years. Ah, memories.
rail0.jpg (129031 bytes)Rail! version 0 (2000): I daydream. I plan. I procrastinate. 

I registered the domain name Railentertainment.com in October of 2000. My original aim was to have a website that contained jokes, articles, Flash animations, and video clips. However, the number one reason I started this site was to showcase some games I was working on. Unfortunately, I am currently better known for my animations, since none of my more ambitious games have been finished. In all my years of game programming, I only have Castles & Cheese to show for it - and let's face it folks: Castles & Cheese sucks.

This version of Rail! was hosted by 8m.com. As part of the terms of agreement, I couldn't use profanity. I also couldn't upload any files over (guessing) around 1 MB. These limits prevented me from creating the site I truly wanted: A site where every other word is a swear word. A site with unnecessarily large .zip files. 

Although the site design is amateurish and simple, it already has the Orange/Blue color scheme which subsists through all future versions of the site. At this point, all Rail! had were links to a few friends at MP3.com.

The Ritalin banner was from Chickenhead.com's Bannertown. Man, I wish I designed that banner.


rail05.jpg (164390 bytes)Rail! version 0.5 (2000, 2001): I like this layout. With a little more polish, it could've been pretty cool, though it lacks the "comic" appearance of later versions of the site. It also used frames, so it got kinda disorganized. 

The Jokes section was taken directly from my old Prodigy home page. 

This version of the site also featured a chat room, but it never got any visitors (as far as I know). 

The Games section didn't contain any of my own creations yet - It simply contained links to a few of my favorite online games. Most of these games hang around on Popcap.com and MSN.com these days.

I like how I have an ad for a Sadistic Talent recording I'm STILL working on in 2004. God I suck.

Check out the old-school Penny-Arcade banner.


rail07.jpg (135481 bytes)Rail! version 0.7 (2001): This is a throwaway design, but I'll let you see it anyway. This version of the site probably didn't last more than a few weeks. I'd just purchased FrontPage, and it's obvious. That's clearly a FrontPage theme there, my friends. I called the MP3 section "Bands", because it simply contained links to MP3.com bands featuring myself or my friends. I wrote the first two or three "Docs" for this version of the site.

rail1.jpg (426904 bytes)Rail! version 1.0 (2001, 2002): Ah, The first major design. This is the first time I actually paid for web space. I used Your-Site for webhosting at the time ($5.00 a month). I used a trial version of Photoshop and Blambot fonts for the logo. The trial version disables saving, so I had to Print Screen and paste it into another program. The button bar was done in Flash. I used FrontPage's "Include HTML" feature to insert the header.

I made my first Flash cartoon "I Like My Women Inbred" during this period, hence the Animation section. I got a few feeble hits, but no big traffic.

I uploaded a few MP3's of my own music. Nobody listened to them.

I also finally had enough webspace (50 MB!!) to put up video clips, so I had the Misawa Video section available. Misawa Video featured clips from a few friends' video art projects in High School. I was in a couple of them. This section was mostly for nostalgia purposes. Most of my bandwidth during this era was from the Misawa Video section, with only a few people linking to my "I Like My Women Inbred" animation.


rail15.jpg (316418 bytes)Rail! Version 1.5 (2002?): This version is not much different than the previous. I just replaced the header section, from what I can remember. Here's what it looked like, anyway.

At the time, I was working on a dark monitor, so I had a great fear that the orange might be too bright. I actually sent emails to several friends asking "Is that orange too bright? I can make it darker, if you want."

My first Flash game, Castles & Cheese (mentioned above) was added to the site as a beta version. I never truly finished the game. It's got an ending and all, but I really wanted it to be longer. And better.

 


rail2.jpg (323736 bytes)Rail 2 (2003?): I switched to PHP for the site template. From now on, I only have to change 2 files to change the appearance of every page on the site. When I first did this design, I thought it was the most beautiful website I'd ever seen. Now it looks very dated and low-budget. Right about here is where Rail! started to achieve a small bit of popularity.

I finally changed the logo to simply say "Rail!" as I intended all along. 

Around this time, I had a little idea to rewrite a children's book I did for a high school art class. It featured a ball that ended up far away from home, got run over by a truck, got repaired, then made its way back home. At first, I wanted this to be a series of images for the site, in a "click to go to the next page" format. Like a book. For some reason, I decided to do it in Flash instead.

The final product, "Bob the Ball" became popular enough to cost me over 30 GB of bandwidth in about 2 days. My web-hosting plan at the time only allowed 6 GB of bandwidth, so I had to pay the difference out of my pocket. Simply put, I had outgrown my webhost overnight. I shut down the site, and put up an apology letter:

WOW. JUST WOW.

I really appreciate all of the attention over the Bob the Ball animation, but my web hosting service just wasn't ready for the traffic. This is really unexpected.

I'm currently looking for a new hosting plan that'll be able to handle the bandwidth without costing me an arm and a leg (If you know of a good, cheap hosting plan that allows over 100 GB month in bandwidth, please contact me).

Hopefully, this will all be resolved within a week or so, and you can get back to watching cartoons, and I can get back to neglecting my website.

-M. Laskaris
Rail! Entertainment

P.S. - Bob the Ball is available at other locations on the internet.

rail25.jpg (400577 bytes)Rail 2.5 (2004. Yer lookin' at it): I'm nearly satisfied with this design. There are still a few glitches that I need to fix, and a few things that can be optimized, but otherwise I'm pretty happy with it. 

News posts are now on the front page of the site.

I removed the Misawa Video and Jokes sections to streamline the site and concentrate more on original material. 

I removed the chat room because, well, nobody wants to talk to me.

Rail! merchandise is now available at CafePress.com. I have a Rail! coffee mug, and let me tell you: It's the best damned mug on the planet. 

I started using R3 Digita for web hosting, but I outgrew the 20 GB limit as soon as Bob the Ball 2 was finished and several thousand 14-year-olds clicked it simultaneously. I currently link to Flashplayer and Newgrounds mirrors for the Bob animations, because the bandwidth gets ridiculous. I hope to host my animations here again someday.

As of this writing, Rail! will celebrate its 4th birthday in less than a month (October 14, 2004). I've still got a lot planned, so I hope people keep stopping by. 

-Michael

Cafepress

Donate!

Newgrounds.com

Flash Player.com

 
 


This site best viewed using Internet Explorer at 1078 X 768 resolution.
Site design by Michael Laskaris.
Copyright 2001-2008 Michael Laskaris. All rights reserved.