Circling the World
So, where to start? I guess that's always the question, isn't it?
I started work on Meridian a little under a year ago. In less than a week, I'll be celebrating my one year anniversary here at 3DO and on Meridian. I've had my ups and my downs, just as the game has during this time. This room is my tribute to the people who made Meridian what it is today, but that didn't get into the original room that Zjiria made.
Ah, I'll start with myself. I am a huge fan of online gaming. I went to college and wasted many nights sitting in front of a green monochrome screen connected to the university's Unix network, typing in the text commands into a text game that had several people playing at once. This was a MUD, the greatest game I had ever played in my life. I spent whole, sleep-deprived nights playing the game instead of doing homework. I became a 'wizard', a person able to add to the game. Being a programmer, I quickly learned the coding language and began gleefully adding to the game. I think the only reason I passed some of my programming classes is because I had programmed on the MUD. If you are curious about the MUD I worked on, it is called Kerovnia. I'm sure a bit of searching will turn it up. The administrator is a great guy and very, very dedicated to the game. But, after working and playing on MUDs, I was hooked. How could other games compare?
Venturing forth I finally graduated, and like most people I left MUDs behind. I didn't have time for them and my career! I started work at a bland little software company in Iowa, working on mapping software. It was a boring 8 to 5 job with little interest for me. I was learning things, but it wasn't a very exciting job. After a while, I began to yearn.... I wanted to get back into developing games! I yearned to create again. So, I contacted a recruiter and started to look for a job. My ultimate goal was to get back into commercial online games, but I would have to prove myself in the industry first. A note to all you aspiring game developers out there: it's a long, tough road. Only the dedicated or insane (or, both is best) need apply. My recruiter put my resume in for a coding position at some company called 3DO....
As usual, it was a case of being in the right place at the right time. They were looking for an online game coder, I was looking for a game development job and had lots of online game development experience. So, a few weeks later I was interviewing for my dream job. It was simply amazing. I would work on one of the oldest commercial online graphical games in the industry. I was very excited!
Getting ready to move, I left my boring Iowa job and travelled to California. I worked with a ragtag group of people on a game that was developed about the time I really started getting into online games. But, it was my dream job. It's never really been an easy job, but, then again, nothing worth having is ever easy to get, right? Things got interested as I got thrust into the Lead Programmer position. Here I was, a lowly Software Engineer I, and I was doing most of the technical changes on my own or with an engineer temporarily helping with Meridian. On the bright side, I was able to help direct the course that Meridian took in the past several months.
Everyone knows right now that I have a lot of mixed feelings. I'm sure anyone who reads this will know the problems the development team has faced. Not all of my ideas and changes were met with universal approval, but I hope that the detractors know that I did everything out of love for the game. I'm sure that there are lots of fingers that could be pointed, but that's not really the point of this little note. I'd much rather highlight the good things that have happened, and hope it will color the future in a bit brighter hues. In the following pages, I'd like to thank some different people. I'd also admonish you to read through the credits sometime. It's in the 'About Meridian 59' menu item under 'Help' above. Click on the scrolling credits to see previous development teams. You should realize how many people put a lot of effort and care into the game.
Without a doubt, the most creative person I have met. Aythya started from the bottom of the food chain to become the one co-worker I respect the most. He is an intelligent person with whom I could discuss online game issues and seriously talk about how to improve Meridian. I don't think I would rather work with anyone else.
In my early career, Aphasia was another creative soul. He helped me learn how to work on Meridian when I was just learning about the whole world. His guidance helped me to learn more about fixing this world. I wish him luck in his endeavors.
Note that he's my 'boss', but he is also my friend. He's always been there to get things done on the management end of things. He's also an avid role-player who likes to assume various online personas. His zest for the game is probably what kept it going for as long as it has. ;)
The poor man has had enough abuse. He's done so much for the game, even though most people don't know who he is. He's the lead tester, and has worked to keep every Beta test running smoothly for as long as I've been here. He does so much work: he answers Beta Emails, he sets up Beta accounts, he records bugs into the bug database, he organizes our internal testers. I can hardly believe one man could do so much. He's one of the biggest unsung heroes of the game.
Everyone read what Zjiria said in the original hall. Still, people always complain they cheat, but they have a very hard job. They must make decisions, and often hurt someone or another. You might not have been bad, but you got punished anyway, or you might know that dastardly cheater got away without any punishment. Well, it's like when your parents used to catch you and your sibling in a bad act. You'd blame each other, and your parents had to make a decision. Well, sometimes they made mistakes, just as the Guardians do.
I'd like to give special mention to two statues that are in the original hall. GuardianDetson did a good job of leading the Guardians. His departure to the 'other side' of customer support for our CD products is sad but understandable. GuardianKana has filled his place wonderfully, leading the Guardians in recent times. They are both wonderful people.
Really, the biggest thrill of my career has then the opportunities to talk to some of the previous developers. I've talked to most of them at one time or another. Although I whine about the legacy code, the broken tools, the horrible designs, I know that I wouldn't be working on Meridian if not for the work they put into the game. Go visit the original Hall of Heroes again, and remember the contributions the all made to the game. We all owe them for paving the way to this game, and all the other games that Meridian has influenced directly and indirectly.
Bards and Guides
Not unlike the Guardians, they don't get nearly as much respect as they should. I am a programmer and happen to be lucky enough to live in a time where my skills are hard to find. I get paid rather well to fix and expand the game. However, these people get the equivalent of $30 per month under the current prices to be a very visible part of the game. Of course, they are only human, so they make mistakes, too, but their mistakes are in front of the whole server. They are also the first people to take abuse when someone is upset. But, without them, the game would not have grown from it's earlier days. The Bards help keep the game from being a stale game of killing monsters, and the Guides keep the really rude and dangerous people from ruining the game for everyone. Give these people a bit of respect for what they do.
The Beta Testers
As always, I have to thank the Beta testers. This includes both the internal and external testers. Many have become my friends. They are the people that put up with our buggy, unstable changes and help us to make them right. They sacrifice their time (and sanity) to help us improve the game. And, while one might go on a rant and whine about something, or another might bug me, again, for a spirit helmetand a scry, they have helped us fix the game.
I'd especially like to thank Christopher Opdahl, aka Cruadorn, who didn't quite make it into the credits as an internal tester for Dark Auspices. He did an excellent job in testing, and I want to correct this oversight. ;)
I would like to thank most of the players that play Meridian. I try to be social, and I try to log onto the commercial servers, but I often get busy coding. But, to the people who have talked to me on the commercial servers, and have treated me like a person instead of a free vending machine for trinkets, I have to say Thanks. Some of them have gone on to other games, and some of you may not have ever seen my green name on the who list, but I still enjoy interacting with players. It's what makes online games so much better, in my humble opinion, than traditional single-player games.
I hope I haven't bored you to tears by this point. As I've said many times, online games are a thing of passion. I always put my whole heart into the game, no matter what I thought my fate was. I will always be developing online games. If you happen to see me on sometime, feel free to say hi. Just realize that I am often busy, but I still enjoy talking to people.
A toast to Meridian 59! May it never be forgotten.
Psychochild May 14th, 1999