So Dwip and I spent a good deal of time last night pouring over our existing notes on Alsherok looking for anything we could find to pinpoint when our areas were written. It was one of those cool trips down memory lane we take every now and then.
You see, we didn't bother keeping very accurate records on exact dates. A tragedy, to be sure, since we kept only slightly better records for the codebase itself. At least until we went public with AFKMud
anyway. Changelogs do help for that. Anyway. It sparked adding a feature to the codebase to tag the creation and live install dates for areas. About 11 years too late for us, but possibly of value to future users. So we needed dates of some kind to put in there, which led to an all-nighter.
So what's the ultimate lesson to learn here? Don't let this happen to you. Don't let 11 years go by before you decide to figure this stuff out. Though it may seem silly now, you may find yourself at your computer 11 years from now going "Gee, this was fun. Wonder when I wrote this?" and being unable to answer the question.
By the way, on the off chance that anyone from The Crystal Shard happens by here and reads this, drop me a line.
First, the boring statistical type stuff. Since you won't be reading it at the end of this long ass post
I didn't bother counting up mobs and objects, but it's probably roughly percentage equivalent to the rooms.
I was a reasonably prolific builder in my time, having created 1402 rooms out of our current 9069. This amounts to approximately 15% of the over all total. Not too shabby. Between Dwip and myself we cornered the market on 38% of the over all content of the world.
My name is on 16 out of 103 current areas in use on our live game port. Which is also about 15% of the overall total. Funny how these things seem to work.
Areas written for Crystal Shard and Alsherok
Lord Arthmoor's Palace
Completed Oct. 15, 1996.
The very first area I ever wrote, for any mud. I still consider this one of my best works. It was very loosely built around the villain from Ultima 5, Lord Blackthorn. The palace is my vague interpretation of what I could remember from having played the game back in the day.
Dwip and I collaborated to include a quest in this area which tied in with his Celestial Sea zone. At the time on Crystal Shard, this sort of thing just wasn't done since most areas were built by a single person and were relatively isolated from their surroundings. We set out to change this after we immed by trying to make each area in the "kingdom" relate to the others around it. It even required a coder to craft a special routine for the quest.
The palace later became involved in our grand endgame quest on Alsherok and took on a new twist to the backstory - which I shall leave to you to figure out. Come play the game
Completed January 1997.
A small newbie type forest which I wrote as a companion piece to Dwip's initial version of Bywater. Together these areas replaced the original Shire zone. Since this city went on to become our central area, having a newbie zone nearby ended up becoming quite handy for people. It may not be one of my best works, but it does the job.
The Great Haon Dor Forest
Completed Sep. 4, 1997.
The infamous Haon Dor. Who can forget it? Mudders across the ages have slogged their way through it on the way to other more important places. Perhaps one of the most well traveled and least known connector areas, I rewrote it with much better descriptions and redid most of the layout. It served its purpose nicely until the overland code came along and the area was mostly broken up into small patches of stuff scattered about the map.
The Haon Dor Caverns
Completed in 1997.
Dwip and I worked together on this area as a sort of underground companion to the Forest above. Complete with twisting tunnels, underground rivers and a lake, some nasty cave worms, and the obligatory trolls, goblins, and things. It spanned pretty nearly the entire continent at the time and had exits out to many places on the surface. It also included an early rendition of my rewritten Deep Ones area, called T'leth as part of its original implementation.
The existing form of the caverns is still as massive as ever and still spans a huge swath of underground area. One can still use it as a means to get from one end of the Graecian Empire to the other, without ever setting foot on the overland. If that's what one wishes to do.
The Haon Dor Dragon Caves
Completed Dec. 10, 1997.
Once there were some scattered dragon caves in the Haon Dor Forest. They were few, and somewhat out of place. Biff the Dragonslayer called them his home. Then came my expanded version, and Biff had a new hunting ground. Dragons of all colors, sizes, and ages now live there. Dragons also play a major role in the history of Alsherok and so it was only fitting that eventually this place became intertwined in the grand quest.
Completed Dec. 10, 1997.
This was part of the grand rebirth of the Graecian Kingdom, which later evolved into an empire. Fort Deme occupies the northern border area between the Empire and the Frost Giant tundra to the north. It served a role in the early historical backstory to the game as well and still stands today as the last outpost of civilization before entering the ice plains.
Graecian Logging Camp
Completed Dec. 10, 1997.
Another small part of the grand rebirth of Graecia. The logging camp served as a stopover along the Haon Dor Trade Road. Filler for an otherwise seriously long walk through a mostly boring chunk of forest. With the coming of the overland this area became little more than a side trip off the main road.
Completed Jan. 21, 1998.
The last of the Bywater revamp set. This area represents the mountains north of the main city and was the last area which I wrote first for Shard. For it was shortly after completing this zone that Shard itself shut down. It serves as little more than a place for the river to come down from the mountains. Of course, one cannot forget the waterfall DT. There's also one spot near there with one hell of a view of the valley areas below.
Areas written solely for Alsherok
Land of the Lost
Completed Jan. 21, 1998.
Anyone familiar with the old 70s TV show of the same name will know exactly where I drew the inspiration for this area. As you might guess, it's basically a big jungle area filled with dinosaurs named for the ones from the show. Grumpy, Alice, Spike, and others live and roam here. Chaka, Ta, and Sa are featured as well, along with an honorable mention to the Marshalls. The south end of the area even features the cave where the family took refuge. And of course what kind of Land of the Lost would it be without Sleestaks and pylons
Of course, I added some of our own special touches to the zone to make it fit in with the rest of the game. Land of the Lost was also the first area I wrote expressly for use on Alsherok.
Completed April 6, 1998.
With the western forts done, I felt there needed to be something more. The humans of Midgaard had lost the war with the orcs, but it never felt like anything tangible happened as a result. So I figured I'd hand one of the old forts over to the orcish command and make the loss seem more real. Fort Gul-Takkah stands along the road part way north of the old Midgaard city, not far outside the Blasted Lands. It served as the northern command post for the human armies until The Devastation and the fall of the city. The orcs seized it shortly after and have held it ever since.
Cartographers' Guildhall Ruins
Completed April 6, 1998.
On Shard, I spent much time mapping the game. Eventually I got to the point of wanting to sell these maps for in-game wealth. The idea caught on quickly, and Dwip was one of the first customers. Not long after, it led to the formation of an informal guild within the game. Such things had no actual code support, so it was entirely a roleplay deal. Membership grew and we became one of the most powerful groups of players ever in the game.
Shortly before Dwip and myself immortalized, we won the right to build a guildhall for ourselves. Of course, with the amount of time these things took, we eventually ended up with it actually being done after we immed. It was the crowning achievement to one of the best times I've ever had as a mudder. I miss those days.
Upon the fall of Shard, I felt like doing something as a sort of homage to what we had achieved. The guildhall was redone as a broken down old ruin of its former self. Complete with collapsing floors, crumbling walls, and an intruding forest bent on reclaiming itself.
Completed April 10, 1998.
The last of the border fort series. We had planned on putting this one in on Shard, but well, plans be plans, and that never had the chance to happen. Palaestras was built as a response to the discovery of the companion fort on the other side of the pass which belongs to the Orcs. The area is the only one of the Graecian forts to be manned by a mix of humans and halflings. It marks the northeastern imperial border.
Halls of Creation
Completed August 3, 1998.
1998 brought with it my entry into the dark world of coding. As part of that, we had decided to revamp the character generation system to be more interactive, along the vein of what you might find in some of the Ultima games. If you haven't figured it out by now, I was a huge fan.
This area was the result of much effort to try and replicate the feel of being drawn into another world and making yourself in a new image for your travels. It's also the starting point of what we had planned to be a very long, involved, game spanning quest. My first heavy use of the mudprog system was with this area as well and drives the interactive chargen portion of it to completion.
The City of T'leth
Completed Dec. 6, 1998.
T'leth began life as a smaller portion of the HD Caverns. But I had always wanted it to be a bit more. So one day I decided to go ahead and update it. It grew large enough to warrant being split off from the main caverns into its own file at this point. The area is still loosely based on the original Deep Ones area from Shard, and some of the history behind this is represented in the new area. We also decided to tie this one in with the grand quest.
The entry to this area has an interesting gate system I spent a bit of time on to try and generate the feeling that the city needed to be secured from the world outside in the caverns. It's not much, but it felt like it at the time.
The Continent of Alsherok
Completed Aug. 20, 1999.
Not strictly an area per se, the continent forms the basis of the original overland code implementation. It serves as the basic place where the code keeps your character as you wander around on the ANSI map of the world. Describing it this way hardly does it justice. It's really something you should log on and see for yourself.
Being the first of three, this continent took an entire month of literally walking around painting in squares in the game. No small task to be sure. It eventually led me to go looking for an easier solution. Which I found in the form of the graphic file reading code. Needless to say, the other two continents were done in a fraction of the time.
The Challenge of Immortality
Completed Oct. 12, 1999.
Easily the most grand effort I've ever made for an area. And ironically it's only available to people who seek to become staff members for Alsherok. So most folks have never actually seen it. Every mobile in the place has a mudprog. You can carry on a pretty decent conversation with most of them. There's also good use of extra descriptions in the rooms and the whole area has a much more living feeling than anything else in the game. And it is technically still not finished to this day. We had plans to create several more sections for it but never quite got around to it.
Lord Arthmoor's Mines
Completed Jan. 3, 2000.
The last actual area I wrote before turning my attention full time to the task of coding. The Mines may not seem like much at first, but they've got a rather cool elevator system I built using mudprogs that I'm quite fond of. If you've visited Lord Arthmoor's Palace, this fits right in. They have to be mining the blackrock resources from somewhere, right?