About OZARIN

A brief summary of the site, its development, and what the future holds.

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What is OZARIN?

OZARIN (pronounced oh-za-rin) serves as an outlet for my various interests, particularly video games and interactive media, design and animation. It is created, developed and maintained by me, Bryan McDowall.

Who is Bryan?

Born and raised in Scotland, I’ve long pursued my interests in design and technology leading me to the position as web developer at Rockstar North. After 8 years in this role, I moved to a smaller software developer called Dayshape, where I currently work as a Product Designer.

I'm a big fan of games and anime. It goes without saying, I’m a big ol’ nerd and a Japan-o-phile too.

You can read more about me on my bio page.

A brief history

OZARIN as a concept started life back in 2007. For the longest time the site itself as a splash page, promising Coming Soon with a nice, but ever changing logo.

It was some time after graduating university, that I actually developed the site into more of a news outlet for geeks, or as I subtitled it (in honour of Genshiken), “A celebration of visual culture”.

I wanted a platform for my interests and hobbies. Something that wasn't limited to the features offered to me, like Live Journal or MySpace (yes, we're going quite far back).

Back then, friends helped to produce content in the form of interesting articles and comics for the site. It wasn’t especially organised - we all just made things we liked, about things we liked, when we liked. For a while it was fun, but it got to the point where we could get serious about publishing our content and growing our audience, or move on to other things. And I chose the latter.

It seemed unfair to ask more from people who were already giving up their free time for my personal endeavour. And whilst I’ll always be grateful for their contributions, OZARIN is largely a personal project.

So a few years ago, I built it again. New tech, same idea. I even tried my hand at podcasting this time.

The tech

I'll preface this by saying that each iteration of the website has been tested the limitation of my development skills, and I'm grateful to have had people and communities to reach out to for help.

The first published version of the site was built using WordPress. It went through many changes in this time, but it felt like I was constantly redesigning the themes to follow trends. Furthermore, I was relying quite heavily on plugins, which often caused conflicts or slowed down performance.

Some time later, I rebuilt the site with Jekyll. This was a journey, and I was pushing what was possible with the framework. But it did introduce me to the concept of static site builders, and I was impressed with the improvements in page speed.

This latest version of the site is built using React with Gatsby. Again, I'm utilising a static site builder, which essentially builds out the whole website each time I update it. This time I'm using a workflow that does this for me before pushing the site to the server, making the build process largely automated.

The future

Like with jetpacks?

In the near term, I'm looking to improve the performance of this version of the site. I built it using React and Gatsby over a couple of months, so I've no doubt this build can be further optimised to improve the experience of every visitor.

I'm making it a priority to write for the site more frequently, whether that's in the form of a review, interesting news, or a long-form article based on something that's captured my interest.

The next big milestone for the site will be an events calendar! I'll use this for upcoming releases and events, and hope to make it as accessible and useful as possible. Naturally, it'll relate to items and events which share a common theme with other content on the site, eg. games, anime, Japanese cinema etc.

I'm also looking at bringing back The OZARIN Podcast for a second season, with some dear friends - because hey, it's fun to talk about stuff with your buddies! But beyond this, I'll also be looking to collaborate with other enthusiasts and experts to produce new series' on a range of topics.