Old December 11, 2007, 02:58 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Location: Aelyria Prime
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About Aelyria

Aelyria was created in early 1989 by Juan Gonzalez (aka Kaelon) over a proprietary online service called Prodigy. Over the years, thousands of members have contributed to developing one of the most richly detailed universes. In 1995, Aelyria launched its first website and pioneered the Play by Post system. Shortly thereafter, the creative group which was accustomed to only several dozen members at the most was quickly overwhelmed by hundreds of users. In 1997, Charles Wallace presided over a significant revision in Aelyria's rules and implemented an efficient hierarchy of impartial volunteer moderators called game masters, a system persisting to this day (see contributors). Aelyria flourished and amidst keen public interest in the Internet, the website was featured on cable news shows, gaming magazines, and major directories. Since its runaway success, Aelyria has continually revolutionized the definition of a Play by Post game ensuring that through its groundbreaking innovation and enduring longevity it continues to attract the largest and most imaginative audiences in the world for an interactive creative experience.

Aelyria on Prodigy

Originally, Aelyria started out as little more than a young child's personal power-trip but quickly evolved into a collaborative storytelling project with several dozen participants. Aelyria was role played with no rules whatsoever and was purely free form in every aspect, allowing for wildly outlandish stories to form an ancient mythology and early history of the game world. On Prodigy, Aelyria existed on the various bulletin boards, including the Teens BB, the Games BB, and finally, the Role Playing Games BB, where it was awarded an unprecedented and highly coveted topic space and featured prominently for Prodigy's members to use. Forums on Prodigy were linear; each posting would create a folder of its own to which responses could be added as replies or as separate posts under the same folder. This simple approach created a powerful storybook narrative experience that was addictive and it was with considerable surprise that no one else on Prodigy had ever thought of building a creative project in this fashion. Bulletin boards were usually used for largely informal conversations and brief chit-chat, as each posting was limited to around a couple hundred words at most. Following the emergence of the Internet in 1993, Aelyria gained a Usenet newsgroup but eventually elected to put up an informational website in 1995.

Generation 1: 1995-1999
Age of the Web Boards

Though its earliest website was little more than an information page, Aelyria quickly made use of the earliest Internet forum scripts, such as Matt Wright's WWWBoard and Darryl Burgdorf's WebBBS, to provide basic interactivity for its visitors. Within months, so many players descended upon the game that one instance of the forums had to be set up per in-game location, which amounted to dozens of fantasy cities and towns of all flavors and themes. Aelyria gained world-wide recognition by being featured by MSNBC's Soledad O'Brien on the cable television culture show, The Site. In 1997, and again in 1999, Electronic Gaming Monthly magazine wrote blurbs about the site and both Netscape and Yahoo featured it on its hot links listings.

Generation 2: 1999-2001
Age of the Ultimate Bulletin Board

In June of 1999, Aelyria departed from the nested and threaded web boards and upgraded to the classic linear Ultimate Bulletin Board by Madrona Park (later, Infopop). Play by Post had stormed the Internet and became a phenomenon with dozens of derivative and imitator games being set-up in the style of Aelyria. By upgrading to this highly organized forum software, Aelyria supported tens of thousands of registered users. By 2000, over 25,000 members had registered to participate in Aelyria. As stories became more detailed and plotlines more complex, relationships between players echoed a larger transformation of cyberculture. During this time, Aelyria celebrated the first real life marriages between members who had first met on the site. About.com featured full spreads promoting Aelyria as a leading web game destination. Despite its streamlined forums and more efficient organization, Aelyria became a technical victim of its own success: its servers suffered a serious crash in late 2001.

Generation 3: 2001-2002

Fans of Aelyria were ready to prove that they were a dedicated community of creative and enterprising people. Spearheaded by the same volunteer moderators, players set up community forums on free providers and hosted as many as 600 members in continuing the storylines and keeping the dream of Aelyria alive. Numerous fan web sites sprouted up throughout the Internet; some were homages to characters whose histories had seemingly perished with the server crash, and others were guild web sites intended to recruit a new generation of adventurers for the cause. Within a matter of months, after experiencing similar technical problems on the strained free servers, players petitioned Play by Post LLC to build a new and enduring home for the decade-long tradition. In March of 2002, their wishes were granted and thousands of users descended across the Internet on the new web site.

Generation 4: 2002-2005
The Ioannes Engine

Determined to ensure that server stability would create an enduring home for Aelyria users, Juan Gonzalez built a new web site powered on a robust PHP front-end and a dynamic MySQL backend, code-naming it the Ioannes Engine. It was a portal that featured game events and world information pulled from various parts of the web and presented to users based upon their preferences. In the days before social networking and blogs, Aelyria sat at the forefront of bringing members together to share their imaginative interests and inspired creations providing its users with web space, galleries, wikis, journals, and even syndication of content. Even as massively multiplayer online games, such as EverQuest and World of Warcraft, began to saturate cyberspace, the demand for creative expression, shared storytelling, and world building was stronger than ever. Though there may have been some minor outages given the demand, humorously referred by members as "Aelyriageddons", the stability and security of the Ioannes Engine ensured that no outage, usually briefly resolved, would result in data loss.

Generation 5: 2006-2007

In Late 2003 and Early 2004, Sarah Nichol (aka Caerydd) became Lead Director and shepherded Aelyria towards a powerful new platform called Drupal. Using Drupal, Aelyria users could publish works relating to their stories and have drafts reviewed and modified by volunteer editors. Collective knowledge could also be stored and presented automatically by the system with extendable modules that directed workflows. With the amount of information being published, it became challenging to present this information in ways that were intuitive to users and could attract and retain new members, but using Drupal helped create professional standards in the worldforge that increased the sense of collective community ownership over the game world and all content in Aelyria.

Generation 6: 2007-Present
Aeternium Engine

In July 2007, Aelyria partnered with venture capitalists and major entertainment and new media firms with the goal to revolutionize the website once more, this time with a focus on bringing user-contributed content at the center of the site's organization. Kaelon returned to the helm full time and immediately redesigned the site. Unlike previous site outages which often might take hours or days to complete, Aelyria's downtime only lasted several minutes thanks to the implementation of a redundant test server. The new site continues to evolve to this day, instituting Web 2.0 conventions such as social networking and search engine optimization, relevancies and related content at the heart of the user experience on our site. The technology making this possible is powered by the next generation of the Ioannes Engine, code-named the Aeternium Engine.


Last edited by Kaelon; February 4, 2008 at 12:23 PM.
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