I'm into the last stretch of editing films and photosets in preparation for launch: or at least the scenes which will be in place on the site when I apply to CCBill for my merchant account. They need to assess all the scenes to make sure they comply with their regulations, so I'm aiming for the shop to be as complete as possible at that point. This is what the pre-launch schedule currently looks like:
- Now - 14 Oct: Editing the last few films and photosets ready to upload
- 14 - 30 Oct: Developing/templating the launch site ready to show CCBill
- 31 Oct: Apply for merchant account
After making the application there'll probably be a couple of days back and forth until CCBill are happy. And if I was using the off-the-peg membership system provided by CCBill (as do most spanking sites who use CCBill), I'd be ready to launch then... but I'm aiming for something a little more ambitious than that.
So during November, D will be working on some custom scripts which interact with the CCBill system in a clever way so as to (hopefully!) integrate their members database with the existing user database on this site. The idea is that anyone who's already created an account to leave comments will be able to keep that username when they want to buy access to scenes ... and keep it when their access expires. I want this system to be compatible, long-term, with this site offering pay-per-download for individual scenes alongside the subscription model, and as such it seems silly for a username to only be usable for the duration of your membership - especially since I'll be offering a short-term membership from the start as well. Additionally, I don't want people to have to log in once to view a film they've paid to see, and again to leave a comment on it.
The fact that very few people offer this sort of integrated system is a hint at how hard it is to install ... so I'm reluctant to promise anything. We may not achieve our aims. But we have the advantage of our very own expert Perl programmer in D, and he has some ideas about how he might be able to do it. So at the very least, we want to try. If it turns out to be impossible, then we'll fall back on having separate logins for viewing scenes and leaving comments - but fingers crossed that we won't have to!
This is why the launch date is currently a bit of an unknown. Either the billing/membership integration is going to be relatively straightforward (i.e. D's projection of how it will work will turn out to be compatible with CCBill's system) and it will all happen fairly quickly. In which case a launch before December might well be doable. Or it'll turn out to be a complete pain - at which point either we'll keep going until it's achieved, however long that takes, or we'll give up after a certain point and do it the easy way like everyone else. If this happens then I will still definitely want to launch before Christmas - by Dec 15 at the latest - but it'll involve some tricky last minute judgments in terms of how long to keep aiming for what we want.
While D is writing clever code and wrestling with CCBill's systems, I'll be tweaking and polishing the website to add some extra sparkle, and bulking out the scenes - adding photosets to accompany films, screenshots and behind the scenes material. I don't want to add too many new scenes after making the merchant application in case it looks like I'm trying to slip dodgy content past CCBill, but I think it should be safe enough to add the "DVD extras" after they've vetted my site.
Eight weeks to go, give or take: and they're going to be busy ones. But I always have great fun when D and I are working together on an interesting web project, and I've been itching to get stuck into this particular one for years now. I'm feeling pretty good about it. Wish us luck - and I'll let you know how we get on!