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Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

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Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Obake on Sun Mar 13, 2016 5:04 am

I've been playing RPG's since around 1990, when I was about 6-years-old. It all started with my exposure to the competitive game market in the early 90's between Nintendo and SEGA, with games like The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Golden Axe, two of my favorite console RPG's even today. Such video games usually had a straightforward hack-n-slash style, a very simple square map layout with different terrains, item lists and life meters, very basic story-lines, turn-based battles and multiple choice decisions which effect the gameplay, enemies and bosses in the form of NPC's played by the artificial game master (i.e. the game console) and a lot of other traits that are very similar to the older tabletop RPG's and even some of the oldest console RPG's from the mid to late-80's. The main characters (the players) usually went on a quest to save the princess or retrieve a special relic, so my first exposure to roleplaying as a child came to me in the form of your typical Dungeon-type roleplaying games.

Then as I got older, I started reading more books. It was around 1992 when I was about 8-years-old that I remember reading my first RPG adventure story, where each page described a scene in the story and you had to make decisions which effected the outcome of the story-line. For example, Pg. #1 might say "You are going into the dragon's lair to save the princess. What will you bring with you?" Then at the bottom of the page, it might say "I will take my sword! (Turn to Pg. #7), I will take my torch! (Turn to Pg. #12), I will take my dog! (Turn to Pg. #8)" or something to that effect. The object of these kinds of RPG books was basically to make it to the very end of the story without dying. It wasn't very advanced, considering there were no maps or dice or character sheets. But it was fun for that age group at the time and it gave me an exposure to reading. Then as I got older, I started playing board games and reading more advanced tabletop RPG books by publishers like White Wolf and Wizards of the Coast, which is where I really started to become a roleplayer myself.

By the time I was 13-years-old, when AOL first released AIM instant messenger, I was already an experienced roleplayer and gamer. During my adolescence I had learned how to play Checkers, so by the time I was 13-years-old, I was already a talented Chess player and Stratego player as well. I was never undefeated, but from a very young age I had started playing turn-based strategy board games with people who were much older than I was, including a couple of Masters and Expert members of the U.S. Chess Federation who were in their late-40's and early-50's, so being a young teenager it was quite a unique experience for me and I became quite talented by the time I got my first home computer.

I grew up during the competitive golden era of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, so I was privileged enough to witness an explosion of different on-line roleplaying sites, chats, forums and games. Prodigy was my service provider back then and the internet was much different than it is today. I was running Windows-98 which was compatible with Publisher-97, a program I used to design webpages and RPG sites. I was about 14-years-old when I designed my first RPG webpages, complete with JPEG files, character sheets and story-lines. I downloaded AIM instant messenger as soon as it became available to me. Then right around my 14th birthday in 1998, Yahoo! released the YIM instant messenger. It was right around this time when I became exposed to chat-room RPG's.

Angelfire was an internet service which provided free web hosting. Yahoo! had a service called GeoCities which was quite similar. A lot of the earlier RPG sites were hosted by either Angelfire or GeoCities and I was interested in both of them. Back then, most places were either running IRC or Java chat. Multicity offered a free Java chat interface for websites, so many early RPG's that I was exposed to came from GeoCities message boards (known as forums) and Multicity or Yahoo! chat rooms. As far back as I can remember, on-line roleplaying has always remained basically the same, with some changes in internet service providers over the years, but the classic RPG's of today were already popular even back then. Dungeon Masters, Dragon Slayer, Golden Axe, Vampire Dark Ages, Werewolf the Wild West, Mage the Ascension, Hunter the Reckoning, Star Wars, Marvel Heroes, Sword & Sorcery, DC Universe, Monster Hunter, Street Fighter, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, Lord of the Rings, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat, Pokemon, Dragon Ball and many different kinds of Japanese Manga were just as popular in 1998 as they are today. Microsoft released MSN instant messenger in 1999 and although it was late on the scene, MSN chats were soon engulfed in the same flame that had sparked the on-line RPG era.

In the beginning, chat-room RPG players were still practicing the oldest form of speed-based roleplaying. This was your typical fun-loving style of chat-room roleplaying which didn't have a whole lot of rules. It became known as "Freeform," though later this style developed into more complex forms of chat-room RPG as rulesets were added or written down. It was around this time that the term "Auto" was created to distinguish one style of roleplaying from another. In some chats, Auto was quite popular. In other chats, Autoing was against the rules. It was around then when some players from the Arts & Entertainment (Ayenee) section of Yahoo! Chat decided to write their own rules for chat-room RPG players. Their ruleset became forever known to chat-room roleplayers everywhere as Type-2 (T2), the standard for speed-based textual combat. Back then, there was another RPG realm in Yahoo! Chat under the Romance section known as Eden, and regular users to that realm were called Edenites.

Soon, the Ayeneeans and Edenites were in the process of making their own RPG web sites. Previously, they had also written down the rules for another system called Type-1 (T1), which later became the standard for turn-based textual combat. T1 and T2 tutorials became widely available through the Eden's Era website and soon these RPG styles were being spread all over GeoCities and Angelfire into different forums and chatrooms like Bravenet, Homestead and Multicity, then later to places like the ProBoards forums. Comicity continued to use Freeform, just as they had done since the very beginning on AOL, until their chat was hacked in 2001. I was there for the declining era of Comicity and for the golden era of Multicity, which is cool. It was fun to watch and interesting to see how on-line RPG has progressed throughout the years. It really has been a special privilege for me.

Unfortunately for myself and many others, Prodigy was bought out and made private by Yahoo! in 2001, thus putting an end to our free web hosting and Java chat services. All of my old webpages, including one of my first on-line RPG sites ever, vanished without a trace. Needless to say, Windows 2000 was not compatible with Publisher-97 and webpages became more difficult to make for me, so I stopped making them. I took a long break from roleplaying after that. It wasn't until just recently in 2015 when I really started getting back into it again. It's funny to see how much has changed over the last decade or so, yet so much is still the same and remains intact. I don't know why I'm really sharing this story with everyone now, but I hope that maybe somebody might find entertainment from reading it. It's really interesting for someone like me to visit the RPG scene all these years later and still find Auto, Freeform, T1 and T2 tutorials on the forums of just about every RPG community I visit. It's almost like a time capsule. Sure, some edits have been made and some authors or gamemasters have added their own spice to the mix of things, but to be as old as I am and see that RPG players still use the same basic styles we used back in 1997 and 1998, it really brings a smile to my face. Thank you all for your devotion to on-line RPG, it has truly been worth my time to meet all of you here in RolePlayGateway and I'm sure we will have some fun.
Last edited by Obake on Sat Apr 02, 2016 11:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby ChaoticMarin on Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:08 am

It's pretty incredible to meet people who have literally been roleplaying since before I was born. It's also always interesting to hear about the RP communities I never got to be a part of. Even when I did start roleplaying I began on less popular roleplaying mediums like Battle.net, so I personally learn a lot listening to stories like this.

Thanks for sharing yours, Obake.
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Re: Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby RPGuru on Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:55 pm

I learned how to role-play my freshman year of high school. I bought the D&D redbox after a deacon (yes, a deacon) recommended after my friends and I admitted to an addiction to ‘Dark Tower’. I read and reread the redbox rules, for a whole year before I went to high school and one of my friends taught me what it was all about.

Yes, that was in 1983. And I have been roleplaying ever since.

Anyone that has been playing that long, as long as me (more or less, I must befriend. For us geriatric rpers must [cough] stick together!

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Re: Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Absenthia on Sat Apr 02, 2016 4:47 pm

Very cool Obake, and at the same time awkwardly nostalgic for me. I started around 2000 when we moved to a new house and there wasn't anyone friend wise for me to hang out with locally.

I do remember all the Eden/Ayanee drama that got dragged into the randomest things. I did a lot over on MSN Groups at this time and learned auto/T1/T2/T3. Was never very good as some of the guys, but fighting wasn't my thing.

When they got rid of Yahoo User Rooms, Groups and Geocities, I remember feeling very lost/out of sorts. So sometimes taking a break is good, but at the same time hard. I've lost count of the rage quits/burn outs/breaks I've taken.

But, it's good to see you're enjoying yourself now. :)
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Re: Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Zodia195 on Mon Jun 06, 2016 10:47 pm

Boy does this bring back memories. I am only a few years older than you Obake and I do remember all that stuff. I loved creating my own webpage through Geocities! It was so much fun looking up free backgrounds and old background music. Hell, it was through that process I became fan of certain anime because I used alot of anime music.

Seeing how bad Yahoo! Groups is now is saddening seeing how I've made lifelong friends through it.

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Re: Memories of An Oldie: A Veteran RPer's Auto-Biography

Tips: 0.00 INK Postby Ace Darkfire on Tue Jun 07, 2016 8:36 pm

I used to use T1 for a couple of years. T1 got a little heady, needing good insight into what's going on, so I switched to T2, always ended up being a little slower than I wanted to keep up.

HATED, DESPISED, UTTERLY LOATHED T3. One word attacks that needed to be sealed before your opponent could type a dodge or block. Stupidly easy.

And I free-styled/T6'd for awhile, mostly during my time at GW.com with Remæus and a few others, who are no longer around. Always preferred T2, though, even though if anyone could type faster, it made it a bit of pain.

Lord knows if I can really do much of any of that any more. . . full 10 years since I last truly did a roleplay fight.
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