Thousand Roads is only the latest in a long line of Pokémon fansites I've created, most of which never saw the light of the internet. I was first introduced to web design in a small elective course during the fifth grade; my first page featured an intense seaweed tiling background, searingly green body text, and all the gifs I could cram onto the screen. Truly, it was a thing of beauty, and I only wish I'd saved a copy of it.
Web design was something I continued to do on and off for fun over the years, with my interest reemerging when I got into Neopets in eighth grade. At around this time I was also starting to get into Pokémon fanfiction, and being such an expert on the subject, I decided that I ought to write a fanfiction guide detailing The Right Way to Do Things. This became a gargantuan document, with five main sections and well over fifty subsections, that somehow never got more than 10% finished. I never quite gave up on the idea, though; as the years went by, I would every now and then take a stab at writing up a little content or coding a new layout for my endlessly in-production project. Over time, as my participation in ASB grew to become my primary fandom activity, it began to take up space on the nascent site as well.
It seemed strange to me how many general Pokémon information sites there were on the internet, or those dedicated to competitive battling, and how few there were focused on the two activities that dominated my fandom life. Sure, there were plenty of sites featuring the webmaster's fanfiction or the webmaster's ASB team, but few dedicated to either practice in general. Given how much room there was to explore both topics, I ultimately decided that they would be the ones to which I could contribute most and, therefore, would be the ones I would base my fansite on.
Initially, I threw up a couple ASB-related utilities and terrible half-done articles on my school's web server. It wasn't until I graduated and got cut off from my free, if terrible, hosting, that I finally decided to take it all the way and really commit myself to creating a fansite that would be more than a couple pages tucked away on some backwater server. That fansite was to be Thousand Roads, which, while it initially opened in October 2011 with no more than those same bare-bones utilities and only slightly less terrible presentation, would not truly get rolling until almost a year later, in August 2012.
The name "Thousand Roads" comes from one of my favorite Chinese idioms, 千方百计, literally "a thousand ways, a hundred plans." It means "to do whatever it takes," "to go all out," or "by any means necessary." Both literal and figurative meanings seem to perfectly capture what it takes to be good at ASB, or even fanfiction--as anyone who has tried to grind out a fifty-plus chapterfic can attest. It also captures the openness of the pokémon world, which is what I find fascinating about it and has kept me coming back to play in it year after year. I think Satoshi Tajiri was correct when he described what he thought was the enduring appeal of Pokémon: "When you're a kid and get your first bike, you want to go somewhere you've never been before. That's like Pokémon. Everybody shares the same experience, but everybody wants to take it someplace else. And you can do that." Fanfiction and ASB are both aspects of fandom that allow people to take the Pokémon franchise wherever they want, and I want to celebrate that on my site, as welll as provide some guidance to help people on their own journies through these strange little fandom niches take their game to the next level.
Initially, what I wanted to do with this site was cover ground on Pokémon fanfiction and ASB that you couldn't find anywhere else, with plenty of resources, tutorials, and strategy discussions. I've since gotten out of ASB and don't have much interest in creating content for it, while at the same time stumbling over a lot of ideas for more general fandom-related pages. While I expect that fanfiction-related pages will always make up the majority of the site's content, I don't know what else might end up popping up, and I look forward to the unexpected twists its path will take. There's only one thing to do now--grab my bike and get exploring!