If you didn't already know about it, HaloTracker is one of the best Halo community sites on the internet. The mission of the site is simple: to provide the most in-depth Halo stats anywhere online. The site doesn't stop there, however. HaloTracker also hosts a great community forum, streaming Halo broadcasts, tournaments, montages, custom Halo challenges and social groups. Xorth, the founder and owner of HaloTracker, was recently kind enough to answer some of my questions about himself and the site. Here is the full text of the interview.
Yuri: When did you first get into Halo?
Xorth: It all started with college bets. Loser had to do the dishes and what-not. So, I borrowed my brother's Xbox and started practicing, and really fell in love with Halo: Combat Evolved.
What is the story behind the Xorth moniker?
In Halo 2 days, I was trying to make my Xbox Live name Worthless, and had a typo and hit confirm before I noticed. So, these days, I just go by Xorth. I used to be Drunken Xorth, but I changed it to HT Xorth to show HalotTracker some support and not look like an idiot. Still an idiot, but I don't like one as much now.
Why did you start HaloTracker?
Programming is my hobby. I've owned several sites prior to HaloTracker, but none of them worked out. It seemed like a growing interest, and I love Halo & stats, so I went off and made it. It's been a blast, and I'm so glad I did it. I have made a lot of friends, whom I will never forget. I've also really improved my resume with the amount of coding that was required me to do to build this site.
Where did you acquire the skills necessary to create HaloTracker?
I've been a Windows developer since my early teens; it's always been a fascination of mine. HaloTracker really pushed me to the furthest I've ever been on web developing, and I'm still learning. I still pick up new technologies along the way, and it's a lot of fun.
What is the technology behind HaloTracker?
I'm very transparent about the site.
The site is written in ASP.NET C# language, and was started by using object oriented principles of programming. As of late, I've taken a turn to functional programming. I have a 70GB database backend. The server is a quad-core Xeon with 16GB of RAM and the site runs off solid state disks (for speed!).
There are 63,000 lines of code in 517 code files.
Our busiest pages are our Stats Pages, Leaderboards, and streamers.
What are the benefits of supporting HaloTracker, and why is it better than Bungie.net's offerings?
While my time is free to the community, servers are not. Every user we track comes with about 40,000 rows of data. It's expensive to store that. So in addition to a warm and snuggly feeling, you get a lot of stats about your games that you are unable to get anywhere else. Bungie provides an overview of totals, but you can't drill down. For instance, if you want to know how many games were you negative KD? Or what was your overall KD last night? Or how did your KD change over the last month? You can only get these at Halotracker. People use these stats to get better, and brag on the interwebs. We also rank you on your overall stats, and show you leaderboards, which Microsoft doesn't let Bungie do.
Has creating HaloTracker changed the way you play Halo?
Well, I am very competitive. And once I get absorbed into the game, I never leave. So I try to spend more time on HaloTracker. Through owning the site, I've gotten to play with some really good players. I have played 1v1 against Elumnation (an MLG pro) many times, and I've never gotten more then 5 kills on him. Owning HaloTracker has made me even more competitive. I can't stand having bad stats, it pushes me to play smarter. Rush less, do warm ups. I used to jet-pack around and Needler everybody, and now I am being a lot more smarter in game. Regardless of how I do, I'm thankful after the game I can look at all my stats!
Can you give us any sneak peeks at future HaloTracker plans?
Halo 4 is coming out at the end of the year, so we are trying to polish the site while we wait. Make things faster, prettier, and get ready for the rush that will be Halo 4. As far as feature releases, I have some in store, but nothing I'm confident enough about yet to release!
Are there any features that you'd like to see added to the stats API for Halo 4?
Well first of all, let's all hope and pray that there is an API for Halo 4. That has not been confirmed yet, and it definitely worries me. If there is an API, I am really hoping we can query more for the data we want, instead of downloading all of it. When you update your stats, we download a 10MB XML file. It's miracle how fast it happens. Our server and Bungie's servers are amazing. But anyway, I would like to be able to query for Arena, Competitive, Invasion stats, and not get 3MB of data for custom games, that I'll never want. Other then that, no, Bungie did an amazing job on their API. We should all be grateful, as everyone has benefited. Let's all hope 343 Industries helps us out!
Do you have any tips for people wanting to launch their own projects on the internet?
Be committed. A lot of people never finish what they start. Also, the community at times can be rough around the edges. Do what you feel is right and keep doing it!
HaloTracker is amazing site, and even if you're remotely interested in Halo, you should check it out. Even if you're not a stats fanatic, the other great features like forums, live streams and community events are worth your time. The newly added Player Classifications are like super-achievements for Halo: Reach. If you think you're the best of all your friends at Halo: Reach, prove it by getting a HaloTracker account!
Hex19.com is running a contest with HaloTracker to award a free premium supporter account as a prize to one of our lucky readers! To enter in the contest, just leave a comment below, sharing what your favorite feature of HaloTracker.com is. A week from today, we'll pick somebody at random to win the prize. Make sure to leave a valid email address so we can contact you if you're the winner. Remember, if you don't win, getting your own premium account is as easy as making a small donation to HaloTracker. By doing so, you're supporting a great cause, and you're unlocking kick ass HaloTracker bonus features.