God Wars I
-- by KaVir
I started Portsmouth University in September 1993 and was quickly introduced to the two VAX-based muds (written in Pascal) which ran on the University LAN. Although we didn't have internet access until mid-1994, I was able to connect indirectly through JANET (a UK Academic network) via gateways to other Universities. I played a variety of internet-based muds in early 1994, including both JediMUDs, Thunderdome and Vego - but it wasn't until the middle of 1994 that I was introduced to Realms of Despair, and that was the first time that I felt I'd found my true mud "home".
From my earliest recollections, I remember that I started work on God Wars during a University break, not long after Eternal Conflict had been created. I also recall that I hadn't known Rotain (Chris Clutton - who started at my University in September 1994) for very long before I started working on Eternal Conflict. For this reason I had always assumed that I had been working on Eternal Conflict in September 1994 and started work on God Wars over the Christmas break (December 1994).
However, access to the recently-restored usenet archives shows that Eternal Conflict didn't get a permanent site until April 1995, and the first God Wars advert wasn't until July 1995. This would strongly imply that I didn't start work on God Wars until either the Easter or Summer break, making the creation date of God Wars either April or June of 1995. When I spoke to Rotain he was convinced that I started work on God Wars during the Easter holidays - and the duration of those holidays would certainly seem to match, because I remember that I'd been working on God Wars for a couple of weeks before I returned to University and put it online. However April seems rather early, because I know that I'd been working on Eternal Conflict for a little while before I created God Wars, and Eternal Conflict didn't even get a site until April. Having said that, the first God Wars advert was posted on usenet on 19th July 1995, which wouldn't have given me much time to create anything if I didn't start work on God Wars until June (particularly considering I had almost no knowledge of C when I started).
Regardless of whether the creation date of God Wars was April or June 1995, the fact remains that I'd been playing Realms of Despair for several months before Malice (Ben Walding) started work on Eternal Conflict. Although I knew how to code, I didn't know C, and so I could only supply suggestions whilst he did almost all of the coding. Because I wanted to provide more than just ideas - and because I'd loved coding since I was about 12 years old - I decided to teach myself C by downloading a stock mud and playing around with it. I had originally wanted to download ROM, but I couldn't find it (and wasn't planning to actually create a "real" mud anyway) so I grabbed a copy of Merc 2.1 and started playing with that instead.
Although I'd written a couple of spells for Eternal Conflict and tweaked a few bits of code here and there, I knew from experience that the only way to get really familiar with a piece of software was to do something drastic with it. Drawing on inspiration from Haus (who had created a mud in which there were only three levels) I created a highlander-style pure PK mud with no classes or levels (technically there WERE levels - "newbie", "mortal" and "avatar" - but they were not levels in the traditional sense of the word).
A friend of mine (ShadoWeaver) had allowed us to run Eternal Conflict on his user account at Wolverhampton University. However because of the University policies we were only allowed to run the mud outside of normal working hours, which was not ideal. An old school-friend of mine (Calamar) managed to find Eternal Conflict a new site at Southampton University, but disagreements with the machine owners there resulted in another move, this time to an account in France which was offered by Alaric, who also ran Black Knights Legacy.
Upon returning to University after the Easter/Summer break, I mentioned my "new little mud" to ShadoWeaver and asked if he'd like to have a look. I had only planned to give a quick demo, but it rapidly picked up players and I was asked to keep running it. One of the players, called Aldric, was friends with the owner of the Monochrome BBS and offered me a permanent site there. It was around October 1995 that I gave out two copies of the code, the first to Lucifer (a friend from Realms of Despair) to run as a mirror site in the US because of the terrible lag the American players suffered, and the second to Joker - an Eternal Conflict player who asked for the God Wars code so that he could see how it worked. Joker went on to run his copy of the mud as "Vampire Wars", which caused much animosity between us over the years.
Lucifer recruited another Realms of Despair player called Shaddai to help with the US mirror site, but the two of them quickly fell out and went their separate ways. I granted each of them permission to run mirror sites, but Lucifer seemed to vanished shortly afterwards. Shaddai and I would often discuss ideas and share bug fixes and snippets, but other than that our individual muds began to develop in different directions. He continued to run God Wars US until 1997, at which point he moved entirely over to Smaug, becoming Nivek - head coder of Realms of Despair.
Around May 1996 I decided that I'd had enough of God Wars. The players were obnoxious and demanding, and everyone - both players and staff - cheated at every opportunity; the mud had ceased to be fun and become a chore. The final straw was when Aldric (who had been granted an implementor position in return for finding God Wars a site) gave out his shell password to three of his friends, and they created super characters for themselves. I shut down the mud and started modifying the code into a new style of mud, which I called "Dark City".