Winter 2003 - Not only was AT&T on the pricy side ($270/mo), but their billing department was intolerable. Apparently, if your credit card on file with AT&T expires, they don't contact anyone. Nor do they mail paper invoices. They just wait for two months, then send you a non-text-format email just prior to threatening to disconnect you and send you to collections. Moving to Speakeasy, the same SDSL service ran $180/mo and their billing department isn't as trigger happy. Never use AT&T DSL if you can avoid it - your credit rating is too important to risk doing business with their incompetent billing department.
Fall 2002 - Extinction, having been a factor in the game for over a year, finally became persistent across reboots. The upside of this is that very accurate statistics are now available on how often mobs are killed, and experience bonuses are provided for finding and killing rarely-touched mobs. It also removed the incentive for players to scream for reboots, and try to crash the mud to zero out the extinction tables.
Summer 2002 - Basically, enhanced internal staff communication and performance monitoring of the mud a lot. Lots of typos were corrected, lots of help files added, and a manual for writing mobprogs finally got written. Thanks to a new perl script, Hades also now knows next morning what he coded the previous night, allowing him to mail the staff a human-readable summary of it.
Fall 2001 - In September, Rhythms (the DSL provider which Connectnet
used for the data line connectivity) filed for bankruptcy and notified
everyone it was going under. This caused a need for a mad scramble to find an
alternate SDSL provider, which was secured at a few thousand worth in personal
expenses. At any rate, Areth was moved to an AT&T SDSL line provided through
Covad. The moral of the story, kids, is that if you can't float the bills,
stay out of the hosting game.
Winter 2001 - Emberle joined the staff, rewriting a lot of areas and greatly improving the newbie process. One of her primary objectives is to improve our newbie retention rate, and so far she's made great progress towards that. Hades took a family trip to Germany and saw where he was born, brought back lots of pictures of swords/axes/whatnot, and extensively modified the combat system. This resulted in the creation of a 'devel branch' of Areth which allows for things still under development to only show up on dev servers. Further, extinction went into play - it's what causes mobiles to stop repopping when they're killed several times more than other mobs of their same level, and not reload until their popularity has gone down a little.
Fall 2000 - Simplyweb turned out to be little better than Midsouth for hosting, and in fact they broke verbal agreements, lied in their response to Hades' complaint to the BBB, and went against their printed contract by ceasing to provide 24/7 technical support. The long and short of it was that they decided their SDSL customers really didn't need to stay up - any time you called after 7pm or so, you were routed to a call center that only knew how to support modem users. The stock answer was, "If you're still down tomorrow morning at 9am, give the techs a call." Areth was moved to ConnectNet. They also provided an upgrade in line speed, to a 784K SDSL line from a 768K one.
Summer 2000 - Nothing much new except for the addition of two Mentors, Rage and Loki, and the addition of SQL logging to virtually every important statistic on the mud. So sue me, I'm having fun with this whole database thing.
Spring 2000 - One day when the packet loss going into Areth's host was at 40%, Hades decided it was time to place a few phone calls pricing SDSL connections. The decision was made to go with Simplyweb.net, an ISP located in San Diego. The SDSL service is through Covad, so any time we're down, blame Covad for it. There were initial problems with the connection, but ever since they rebuilt the circuit there's been little downtime and/or lag. Areth is hosted off of a 768K SDSL line coming out of Hades' house, which provides much more response than the single overworked T1 that midsouth.net had. The player counts continued to increase, and the Areth.org domain was finally registered. This now gives Areth an easier-to-remember web location, one far less subject to the vagaries of ISPs than a third-level virtual domain entry.
Winter 2000 - Having worked for the ISP for two years, Hades grew tired of living in the South and only making a pittance (the South is a lousy place to work for money), plus not really having anywhere higher to go in terms of authority or resume bullets. Therefore, a little more than a month after posting his resume on dice.com, Hades found himself permanently escaping the vile state of Tennessee for a new job in his native state of California. By now, the ISP was overcommitted for bandwidth (due to some fairly large dedicated-access sales but no increase in upstream connectivity), and lag was starting to become apparent. Counts began to pick up, due to some mailing activity on the Areth mailing list which served to remind some early players that the mud still existed. Zeel also joined the ranks of the Immortal staff during this time, with the responsibility of reporting to the player base on all the newsworthy events happening on the mud.
Winter 1999 - Yahoo finally listed us, so we're getting counts for once. Unfortunately, the nearly-nonexistent counts we had before now weren't anywhere near adequate to reveal bugs from the months before. Now that we've got a lot of players, they're rapidly finding new and unique ways to crash the mud. 20 players online have been known to happen, and during prime time, 10 is the normal amount. To steal a line from "The Postman", 'Things are getting better'.
Spring 1998 - Cam, Altar, Heath - they were the first faithful players Areth really had, and will always be remembered. Unfortunately, this time of building up the mud was darkened by the spectre which terrifies all startup muds - Host Problems. Funcity became increasingly undependable, shutting down for weeks on end seemingly at the drop of a hat. Fortunately for both muds, Hades soon received a job offer from an ISP in his area. Within a week of having been hired, he'd talked the ISP into offering shell accounts, and Areth was the first mud the ISP brought online. The second one was DarKnights (now known as DUSK), and the third was Radiant Darkness. RD's implementor is another friend of Hades', Zio Savoria - they don't know each other IRL, but if one looks closely one can find certain ideas which both muds have in common, the results of late-night concept thrashing sessions over immtalk (the results of a guest imm exchange program). BTW, Zio's the one who pushed for the Highlander-style immortals that players turn out to be sometimes. :p
Winter 1998 - During this time, the tensions between the triad grew to much more than could be tolerated. To be honest, given the natures of the implementors in question, it was rather predictable. Hades' ambition was to create a mud without immortal intervention on players' sides, no spellups on mortals by immortals, no handing out objects, and levels would be hard to get but satisfying as a result. Arrow and Kierra both came from the softer Far Side/MARS tradition, where favoritism and being "nice" to players was considered a virtue. To Hades, a restore was something for players to enjoy once a week or so - to Arrow and Kierra, it was something to be done every time you log in and every time you log out. The single issue which destroyed the triad was the issue of dragon TNL. Hades strongly felt that 4000TNL was the minimum which should be allowed, and Arrow and Kierra both wanted it dropped to 3000. Arrow and Kierra were continually reinforced in their opinion by whining dragon players who were actually wanting human TNL, and the rest of the staff had already experienced muds where as soon as the dragon TNL had dropped from 4000 to 3000, suddenly dragons became the most popular race on the mud. With neither side willing to budge, the situation culminated in a furious talk session via internet. The next morning, Hades informed Arrow that he was purchasing another Funcity shell account, upon which to continue R&D into the codebase, and that although DarKnights would have a copy of the source code and could run the new executables as they're updated, that he was also running another mud on the same codebase, upon which he was the sole implementor. It was also revealed that Kierra had resigned, for about the third time since DarKnights had started. Hades, Maelstrom, Sparkle, and Quietus met at a McDonald's that night and laid out the groundwork of the new mud's infrastructure. Through dedication and work, Maelstrom had reached the rank of Executive on DarKnights, and as Hades let everyone keep their same ranks on the new mud (except for Kierra, who was deleted and Arrow, who became a guest), Maelstrom became the second highest on Areth. Sparkle and Quietus were at high junior levels, and given design responsibilities. The committee eventually concluded that Areth was a good name for the new mud. The split wasn't exactly unfriendly; any staff members who chose to stick around on both muds were allowed to do so. This of course meant most of them. Considering that this is the history of Areth, not the history of DarKnights, DK's history isn't covered beyond this point. Before this point, however, Areth's history was DarKnights.
Fall 1997 - Shortly after Hades' return from Dallas, Maelstrom came into contact with Mike Tayter, the sysadmin of an inexpensive shell account hosting service called FunCity. Maelstrom purchased an account at funcity and turned it over to DarKnights as a new base of operations - it was readily and gratefully accepted. Initially, it was funcity.ml.org:7000 - after a while, however, Arrow failed to take over the payments due to a misunderstanding and the account was closed down. This was the first experience DarKnights had with a static connection - considering the big beta test warnings, everyone became strongly aware that although they enjoyed playing the mud, their characters were going to be deleted once it got out of beta testing. Since there were almost no players online, Maelstrom and Hades eventually double-teamed Arrow and pummelled him into going public. The initial rush of new players was a heady experience. During this time, much of the quibbling bugs with the codebase were found and a large amount of the underlying groundwork for the mud was put in place. As for Ghostface, unfortunately his anarchist mindset renders him unsuitable for any position below sole implementor of a mud - after a brief, ill-fated immortal career on DarKnights, he was returned to mortality but encouraged to start his own mud. To this date, his concepts and designs are still more than welcome, although any time he logs in it usually turns into a crucible in which ideas descend and are refined or consumed. In short, he's a highly beneficial player.
Summer 1997 - Hades went to work for the summer at a telecommunications company in Dallas, Texas. Considering that it was purely a summer hire employment, he didn't bother to make friends in Dallas - not much sense in getting to know someone when you know you're leaving in a couple months. His existence consisted of working 8-10 hour days and then coming home to code. The mud itself was up, in a manner of speaking. The Mud - it was no longer just a nebulous entity; Arrow and Kierra had dubbed it 'DarKnights', for lack of anyone having come up with a better idea. Hades had worked out a means of dialing into Sprynet and keeping his connection "alive" for an extended time - once, almost 48 hours, on a normal dynamic dialup connection. He'd also worked out a program which mailed the IP number of the day to all the interested Areth players. Had he known about Monolith's Dynamic IP program back then, he probably would've used it - it would've been perfect. At any rate, DK's beta testing was done over a 28.8K modem, and the only way people knew how to get there was when the mud auto- mailed its IP to them. It was the time of Playtesters - immortal characters which anyone could become from level 1 mortal and on, simply by typing Playtester and their email address. Playtesters were supposed to run around, check out stats on items, test different skills with their mortals, etc. In reality, the playtester program was a colossal failure. The only thing they were actually used for were either (A) kids being able to imm power trip and (B) Kierra's cyber-paramours coming to look for her. Nonetheless, the idea behind playtesters was a good one - it simply didn't work out with human nature being what it is. During this time, periodically an associate of Hades', Ghostface, came into the picture. Ghostface was brilliant, adept in researching skills and spells for the classes, and had an excellent martial arts background from which to draw his concept of the ninja class. Were it not for Ghostface, the entire project would be strongly lacking in the diversity which it presently possesses. Ghostface still enters the picture periodicaly, a concept sniper - just when you think you've got the mud worked out and stable, he points out something that turns it all upside down. He's presently developing an Areth-based mud which will be great when it opens.
Winter 1996 - Hades and a friend of his, later known as Arrow, were talking about muds. Arrow came to the conclusion that he wanted to run one, and asked Hades for recommendations regarding codebases, coders, builders, etc. Hades thought about it for a minute or so and pointed out that he had one he was developing as a sort of toy project, which he might be persuaded to bring public. Arrow jumped at it, and the point of serious development had begun. Periodically, Hades would turn on his computer at night and leave it open, having mailed out the IP address to Arrow, Kierra (Arrow's then-gf), Sparkle, and Quietus. The original command structure of the mud was three Implementors - Arrow, Hades, and Kierra. Unfortunately for the trio, they failed to recall that triads are the most reactive and unstable types of government. A few weeks into the project, Hades noticed the person now known as Maelstrom desigining help files for a Star Trek themed talker. Since he personally despised writing help files, and didn't want to think what they would've looked like had Kierra done them, he promptly railroaded Maelstrom into being the imm in charge of the mud's help files.
Fall 1996 - Hades was growing dissatisfied with the lack of originality on the muds he played, and wanted more than anything to see a vampire system which didn't rely on a special vampire race, class, or whatnot. He tried a few codebases and eventally settled on Envy 2.0. At first, there was no shell account or online system whereby the mud could be played - it was merely a programming exercise sitting inaccessibly on Hades' home computer. At any rate, most of the existing vampire system was written during this time. It should be noted that at this point, Hades had no intention of starting a mud, just proving that what he wanted could indeed be pulled off.