I was just thinking today about when I really started creating. I had been bitten by the creative bug very early in life, and spent much of my junior high and high school life playing RPGs to satisfy that urge. There were a couple of summers where I wrote some short stories (very short!) and that helped, too. RPGs, Car Wars, idle experiments in fiction pretty much carried me through my youth up until I went away to college in Laramie, Wyoming.
When I was writing fiction, I had this old electronic typewriter that scrolled the words across a tiny screen, making editing a huge pain in the butt. I’m super grateful to have a computer with a screen these days to watch myself type out the words… it’s a huge help.
Anyway, when I got into college, I finally had access to computers. It turned out that the University of Wyoming had spent some serious cash on putting computer labs in almost every building. Even the dorms had a tiny computer lab (with an ancient CRT computer from the 80’s — we called ’em ‘Datasaurs’). And this is when I finally got to start really satisfying my need to create.
This was the early 90’s, and there were simply tons of creative things going on. White Wolf was dominating the RPG market, comics were seeing the Death of Superman, tv had Star Trek: TNG (and I was exposed to Red Dwarf), and we had computer games like Mechwarrior. I drifted into an entirely different kind of computer game while at college, however: MUDs and MUSHs. I’ve talked about these before, but suffice to say that these were entirely text-based predecessors to modern MMORPGs.
My first MUSH was called TwoMoons, and it was based on the ElfQuest setting. As a fan of ElfQuest, I fit right into TwoMoons and it was quickly my home away from home. I spent uncountable hours creating characters and playing out stories there, but I still felt like I wanted to contribute more.
One week, my desire to create something hit overload, and I managed to petition the game’s ruling council to create a new region for the game. This place would be called Ravenholt, and it would have its own history, several different areas (all meticulously described in blocks of text), and even had some primitive code installed to make certain things happen (there was a tidal cave that would fill with water and an “old faithful” style geyser). There was also a mysterious “cave of visions,” that was part of a storyline I had intended to explore the idea of spells left behind by the High Ones that may have been linked to one another (similar to the spell that created MadCoil, for anyone who is an ElfQuest fan!).
Even better, Ravenholt attracted players to explore the area. In short order, there was an entire new tribe thriving on the MUSH. This meant that somewhere between 17 and 70 people from around the world were exploring and interacting with my content. Stuff I had created was out in the wild, being used and enjoyed by other human beings.
I actually had Ravenholt listed on my resume for several years as an example of my writing skills, since I felt it was noteworthy that I had essentially built part of an MMO-before-there-were-MMOs in a popular license, and that my content was considered good.
As an interesting note, some of the people who engaged with Ravenholt are fellow creators, including urban fantasy author C.E. Murphy. I met one of my best friends in the world, Brent Smith, thanks to this game (though not this content). Brent’s character for Ravenholt was Quickstorm, by the by.
At any rate, it’s been years and years since I had anything to do with Ravenholt. I wish I had better records of it (as far as I am aware, nothing remains of the text I wrote for it). I no longer list it on my resume since the MUSH has long ago been shut down.
But I’m still damn proud of it.