Blast From the Past
By Dwip January 21, 2007, 4:58 pm Comments Off on Blast From the Past RSS Feed for this post

So in one of those things where you sit up and say “Hey, 11 years about today I started playing MUDs!” Samson and I were up until about 6am last night (or this morning if you prefer), trying to figure out which areas we wrote when. This is not exactly a trivial exercise. Alsherok has, at present, 103 areas by various authors, counting various storage and otherwise backend areas, and not counting the four or five areas that have been scrapped for one reason or another over the years.

I am, for better or worse, the author or significant rewriter on 24 of those various zones over the course of about ten years, plus a few of them that have been rewritten more than once. Because I just love throwing useless statistics at you, that breaks down to on order of 2,045 rooms, 414 objects, and 446 monsters, plus or minus some amount for rewritten areas. Of all of Alsherok, 23% of the areas, 23% of the rooms, 17% of the objects, and 21% of the mobs have my name on them.

That was a lot of work, to be sure. Not even counting the time spent proofreading, area checking, area mapping, writing code, and doing design work. Fun stuff. I miss it. Alsherok had some really good years.

Anyway. I’m going to go all nostalgic about my areas now, so you might want to abandon ship while you still can. Sorry, I know nobody cares. I don’t really care that you don’t care. It’s my blog. Nyah.

The Celestial Sea – August-October 1996 – Rewritten July 2001

My first area. It was, to be perfectly honest, all of the things from Oriental Adventures and the Kara-Tur Monsterous Compendium that I thought were cool, from wako (pirates) to gargantua and krakentua. I still remember riding in a car in 1996, jotting room descs into a notebook. Taught me a lot, both in writing and designing, and in this little thing called quality control. There were so many format errors (hand editing, remember), I think I crashed the test MUD about a hundred times. I got a lecture for that one. I don’t remember the contents, but I’ve been a lot better about QC since.

One of my favorite things about the Celestial Sea was that it featured a quest tie-in with Samson’s first area, Arthmoor’s Palace. Took special coding, even, which was one of those things you just Did Not Do back on the Crystal Shard of 1996. First tie-in with another area like that, and the first of many areas Samson and I either tied together or co-wrote. I don’t suppose as how any of that is a big deal in the MMORPG age, but it was big to us, then.

Argalath’s Keep – October-December 1996

Argalath’s was me wanting a haunted castle full of undead, as well as a good low-level area to go killing for good characters, so they didn’t have to constantly slaughter elves all the time (more on them later). In keeping with trends, I took the time to invent some backstory and stick it in. Again, one of those things Shard just didn’t have a lot of. Except for that ring of death traps around the wall that later got taken out, I’m still particularly proud of Argalath’s Keep. It wasn’t fancy, but it was fun. Evidently somebody agreed, since it was the only thing of either Samson’s or mine that got kept after we left the Crystal Shard in 1998.

Bywater – January 1997 – Rewritten by Samson July 1998 – Rewritten May 2002

Bywater kicked off Samson’s and my long-term project for the Kingdom of Graecia, which was to rewrite all of the stock areas, some of which were atrociously bad. This was something that was more or less unique on Shard, except for Dracos’ various rewrites of Midgaard, that infamous stock city.

What resulted was the expansion of a tiny Tolkein-themed village to a full-fledged town in its own right, with shops and things to do. As time went on, it finally broke its Tolkein roots, and became what amounted to Alsherok’s main town with Samson’s version 3 rewrite. Version 4 took it even further, adding all sorts of newbie quests in one of our better usages of the mudprog system.

It also has that best bit of fluffy backstory, the Museum. Those four rooms were fun.

Graecia, Graecian Ocean, Eretria, Hades, Olympus – January-August 1997 – Rewritten January 2001

Graecia was, and always has been, our really big project. The original Graecia was an atrocious mess of warps, and for one of the main cities in the world, was really small and sucked a lot. So I fixed that with an area that was an enormous homage to classical culture, from the Colossus and the Hanging Gardens to Clytemnestra and Roman-style triumphal arches. Attached and later spun off for Alsherok were three subsidiary areas – the small farming village of Eretria and the Graecian Ocean, which is as good a homage to classical mythology as you’re likely to ever find. There was also a labyrinth, which was subject to its own rewrite later. Cities are always a pain in the ass to write (so why did I write six of them?), but Graecia was always fun to write for.

Hades and Olympus were both seperate areas from Graecia, and once upon a time were popular leveling and equipment gathering spots. The Aegis of Zeus was an oft-seen rent item in the days of yore, and a couple dozen runs through Hades were what got me the experience to hit immortal back on Shard. But they were smallish and kind of sucked, so I rewrote them, doing some research into classical mythology and then writing to that.

Not my best areas, but I’ve always been fond of them.

Fort Balasi, Fort Perioeci – December 1997

As Bywater was for the old Shire, and Graecia, Hades, and Olympus were for the stock versions of themselves, so were the Graecian fortresses and Samson’s Haon-Dor Forest rewrite for the kingdom as a whole. These two are simple areas, as far as rooms and such go. But they and the forest were where we first showed our vision for Graecia, later fully realized on Alsherok. We created all of this to support a storyline Kingdom (later Empire) of Graecia. We built a road through the forest, and fortresses on the edges of the kingdom.

Haon-Dor Caverns – Cowritten with Samson, 1997

As part of our transformation of the kingdom, we did something else new. The Caverns were a fairly generic Underdark area, but on a scope never seen before on Shard. The tied together plenty of areas, from Argalath’s Keep to Fortress Deme and later areas. Also home to the famous Superrabbit mob.

Bywater Mines – January 1998

This area was me playing with teleport rooms, really. As an area I’m not really proud of it, though in its time it’s been an important connecting area, tying Bywater to parts north as well as the Haon-Dor Caverns and the back way to elves. It also features the infamous waterfall DT.

Blasted Lands/Ruins of Midgaard – January-April 1998

The very very first thing I wrote for Alsherok. We tacked it on east of Fort Perioeci to replace stock Midgaard/Darkhaven. I’d written a couple of cities by then, but never blown one up, so that was a lot of fun. It was probably too much fun – lots of people fell into death traps in acid pools and burning buildings there over the years. This is also where I first learned SMAUG’s OLC system, that great boon to builders everywhere.

Temple of Ortheus and Nol-Thadr – March-April 1998

Two of the first small things I wrote solely for Alsherok. In addition to holding various diety objects and avatars, the temples were a place to test out SMAUG’s mudprog system (new to us old SillyMUD hands) and later functioned as recall points when we changed that system. Overall, they were also important in developing Alsherok’s mythology.

Maldoth – April 1998

This is the city that made me hate cities. But of all of them, I am perhaps proudest of Maldoth, which I built to replace New Thalos in the eastern part of the world. I tried very hard to write unique, high-quality descriptions for every single room (over 150), and make it a city worth visiting. I think I succeeded. Of note, this is the city that spawned a great deal of Alsherok mythology as well as one of my few pieces of MUD-related fiction. Thingal’s been one of my favorite archetypes ever since.

New Elven Forest – April 1998

I believe this actually had its genesis in the waning days of Shard, written to replace the classic Elven Forest area. Hence New Elves, though this area is now older than old elves was when I wrote it. Funny how that works. In any case, this was a competant enough area, though I’ve always been vaguely disatisfied about it for some reason. I think maybe I made it too large. I’m not sure. Bland or not, generations of Alsheroki cut their teeth on New Elves, just as their forefathers cut their teeth on the elves of old.

Bywater Zoo – June 1998

In the days of stock DIKU and SillyMUD, there was a zoo area, which featured a dangerous creatures exhibit. Pretty famous and widespread newbie areas. I have some pretty fond memories of the Shard DCE, such as the time I died in there 5 times in a row at level 29. So when we moved to Alsherok, naturally I wanted to recreate it. And I did. And it’s still fun. Trips to the zoo have never been more exciting.

Venetorium – July 1998

Part of the vision for the kingdom of Graecia was expansion on a continent called Alatia, which was supposed to be my own private playground, but never really got off the ground, though I still have nestled in my head the backstory and about five areas worth of material. Venetorium (yes, another city…sigh) is all that came to pass of this. I’m fairly happy with it. It has a sort of charm to it, and you know, everyone needs a Rod of Governorship as a levelling item.

Writing those ten ship to Graecia teleport rooms were a bitch, though. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make ten rooms of ocean interesting without a fight scene?

Ruins of Zeratul – October 1999

After a lengthy haitus spent doing some hefty design work, I wrote Zeratul to connect to Samson’s Land of the Lost, both of which were part of our high-level endgame quest, which I think is relatively unique among multiplayer games. I’m really proud of that quest. Zeratul was fun, too. I like blowing up cities, especially a slightly near-future one like Zeratul. It had lasers of a sort, a dead guy with a briefcase, and a six foot tall metal rabbit golem with diamond teeth and a bad attitude. If you survived the denizens, Zeratul was a fun trip.

Continent of Alatia – December 1999

This wasn’t really an area so much as a tie-in point for the overland. I used it as a storage point for various world-wide Graecian objects, like armor and weapons for the soldiers. That had been done before, but the ultimate expression of it came out in the standardized item generation documents and code that are, so far as I know, unique to Alsherok.

Graecian Postal Inns – January 2001

“Hey, Dwip. It would be really great if people had places to camp and get supplies on the overland. It’s really big.”

“Sure, we can probably do that.”

About a day later, six inns sprung up across Graecia, offering just that. Not my biggest, baddest area, but it was a fun speed drill, and the inns were pretty useful.

The Labyrinth of Kings – July 2001

If I have a best-written, favorite area, this is it. It was a rewrite of the then-four year old Graecia labyrinth. The labyrinth stayed, but with new tricks and traps, and a hidden tomb area. This is where I really went wild with the prog system. There are a number of mini quests in here that span the Graecia area, as well as random treasure (or enemies) from coffins, among other things. The playtesting sucked, but the area is cool.

Tower of Navarsi – Rewritten February 2006

I was bored. Nostalgic. I felt like cleaning up one of our converted-from-stock areas from the days of yore. Stock areas from the early 1990s sucked. That’s all I want to say about it.

I’m done now, I promise. I won’t talk about all the design work. Or projlist. You must ph34r projlist.

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