Alsherok: 10 Years

Ok. So I'm a tad late on this. On September 4, 2007, Alsherok passed it's 10 year anniversary. We've been online more or less continuously the whole time, having bounced over several MUD servers and even a domain name change. It's been quite a ride. And what better subject to cover for this blog's 100th post than a trip down memory lane :)

We began life as Lands of Solan, named after one of the continents we revamped on Crystal Shard - our old MUD. After it had become obvious Shard was going to fail we looked around for a codebase to use and happened across Smaug 1.02a. It was very easy to setup and start working with, and had lots of features we wanted as well. We even had one of the Shard coders for a brief while, but he left after about a month or two.

Smaug's stock areas left a lot to be desired ( don't they all! ) so we spent a fairly significant amount of time converting everything we had written for Shard. The gory details of a lot of this was chronicled in Preserving History back in February. The short version of it was that it sucked ass for the most part because none of us knew how to code at the time. The irony of this being that by the time I knew how to code well enough to convert the files, we had no further need to :)

For at least the first year or so we enjoyed a reasonably big playerbase, averaging 25 or so a day. That may not seem like a lot, but it was at the time. We had an active staff that was churning out areas and for the most part we were doing quite well. I had begun to learn the ins and outs of enough C to be able to modify the game code when we needed to. I had even released a snippet or two.

When Smaug 1.4a came out in July of 1998, it contained a number of bugfixes and new features. Many of which I was still not in a position to understand. So we scrapped our 1.02a code, installed 1.4a, and I pieced back in what I could remember from the old code. It was a bit of a mess but we got through it. For the next several months code modifications were being made at a furious pace. We had managed to acquire a copy of the source code from Crystal Shard somewhere along the way and I was porting things over to fix some of the gameplay issues we had with Smaug.

In early January 1999 we discovered the DOTD codebase. It was a hybrid of Dale and Smaug, Dale being a child codebase of SillyMUD. This seemed to be the answer to all of the attempts we'd been making up to this point to try and make Smaug in the image of Shard's code. Things looked good for awhile until we started noticing data corruption in the area files. We were forced to close down the MUD for awhile. I spent a great deal of time looking for the cause, but was never able to find it. So we ended up digging up the old code and going back to it. We did port a number of things over from DOTD though since it had a lot we liked.

The next major change we introduced was in August of 1999 when I wrote the Overland code. It was a huge project that took several weeks of bug hunting, cursing, yelling, compiling, compiling again, compiling some more, and even cost me one keyboard when it suffered a fist blow :) The maps were originally written in a humongous text file as a list of terrain values. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. I spent 3 weeks alone wandering around the MUD in various stages of editing terrain data into the map. We had image files of what we wanted, so it wasn't a totally blind operation. Then once the 1st map was done I insisted on finding a way to read those image files. It didn't take long before I found something, and the other two continents took a couple of hours - including the time it took to put in the code to support it. According to an old timeline log I have, the Overland took almost a full year to get to the point where it was playable and we activated it on the main port in July of 2000.

The year 2000 was very good to the code. Tons and tons of things got done. But we ( ok, mostly me ) were itching for a change of pace. We needed a new name for the MUD. I don't remember the exact reasons why, but I think it had something to do with a TV show having a character or region named Solan and not wanting to be confused with that. After some debate and discussion, we settled on the name Alsherok. So I bought us a new domain and we made the necessary changes to transition over to it. The name obviously stuck, and has the advantage of being unique.

The early part of 2001 saw our entry into the intermud networks, and all of the coolness and crap that went with it.

2001 represented the peak of our playerbase, and then a rapid decline as people began moving on to things like Everquest and Ultima Online. It more or less spelled the beginning of the end for any kind of stable presence by players. Many of our staff members disappeared around the same time. Those of us who were left were increasingly idle while online. It gave rise to nicknaming the place AFKMud.

In December 2001, we decided that it would be a damn shame to let all this wonderful code go to waste. January 2002 rolled around and with it began my transition from implementor on Alsherok to a more prominent role in the larger Smaug community. I had already contributed numerous snippets and established an active presence on several community sites. But the release of our first beta version of AFKMud more or less made that transition complete. Alsherok transitioned into more of a codebase development site than an actively played MUD. Our official 1.0 release of AFKMud came on January 29, 2002.

Over the next 5 years we maintained the MUD for advance development of things going into AFKMud, and as a chat room for those of us who have stayed in touch the whole time. We still get players who pop in from time to time, but none ever stay very long. Part of the catch-22 of not having a regular stable playerbase anymore. Overall I'd say we had a pretty good run. We lasted a lot longer than most places do. I know I enjoyed it all quite a bit and I'd like to think everyone who worked for and played on the MUD did as well.

Some useless stats

We've been hosted by:,,,, and then self-hosted on my own servers which later evolved into

The most players we ever had on at once: 57
Number of rooms as of today: 9069, in 103 areas.
We have 2111 distinct mobs, and 2375 distinct objects in play.
As of today, we have 56 registered players. 12 of which are immortals. 35 of the players are marked as exempt from deletion.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

« Never Forget: 9-11-2001
Oblivion Dominoes »

Posted on Sep 13, 2007 9:46 pm by Samson in: | 3 comment(s) [Closed]
BTW, I realize that the post ID on this one is 111. Keep in mind, this blog is also a development site and 11 posts gave their lives to further Sandbox's development. :)

Sounds as though it's been a long, but overall good, ten years so far. I raise my glass in toast and wish you another ten at least as good. :)

*L* 11 posts gave their lives for development, eh? Bet I still have nine or ten of them in my RSS reader.. ;)

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