The History of DragonSpires According to Motorhed
Kicking Things OffEdit
Let me start off by saying that I wrote something very similar to this a few years ago. It was a direct response to a similar page written by Mech. (Adam Maloy)
I deleted the page soon after, with the idea that I wouldn't sink to the level of pointing the finger at him the way he had done to me.
More recently, I discovered that DragonSpires had a page on Wikipedia. Lo and behold, Adam Maloy's one-sided testimony concerning the game, its beginnings, and its ultimate demise resurfaced.
Now the statements he has made may affect my newer projects, so I must step up and make the truth known. In all its boring detail.
In 1995 I recieved my first computer as a birthday present at the age of 16. Sure, I'd used them before in school, libraries, etc. - but this was my own.
I proceeded to join several text MUDs including the famous "Gemstone".
One day, while searching for more such games, I came across a link to DragonSpires. DragonSpires was a graphical RPG of sorts. Though it possessed only one sprite (palette swapped as per the player's choosing) and very little to do, there were a few regular players who hung out there.
Soon, I was one of them, creating the name "Motorhed". IIRC, the "A" was dropped due to a character limit on usernames at one point or another.
Here I met Hellmonger, Wolfe, Gunslinger, and other such players. Though there was nothing to do on this game, I was wowed by the fact that it was like the other text games I'd played... but with graphics. (Oooh!)
In truth, this was one of the first GMUDs. This of course stands for "Graphical MUD".
Created by 'Manda and Dr. Cat (Who would later go on to become the infamous Talzhimir and Felorin of furry chat RPG "Furcadia") DragonSpires was completely devoid of their presence by the time I found it. Instead, players whiled away the hours hacking the game, kicking each other off, and spoofing each other's names. I found this hilarious and terrific.
Little did I know that Dr. Cat and 'Manda were absent because they were creating Furcadia, and had no intention of working on DragonSpires any longer.
Enter the MechEdit
It wasn't long before I discovered that players were making graphical patches for the game. People would edit the item, player, or floor tile files using a certain program, then replace the graphics with their own.
Some would even post their patches on their hot new Geocities pages!
I took it upon myself to create several new graphic sets to relieve the bordom and teach myself how to do pixel art.
These patches turned the player sprite into an ogre, changing the items into non-sequitor objects, etc.
Then came my Monster patch.
The Monster patch (or possibly Murder patch... tough to recall at this point) changed nearly every graphic in the game. The idillic world of DragonSpires became a hellish nightmare with severed heads and blood spray abound.
This patch was picked up by another DragonSpires player and was placed on his hot new Geocities page for others to download.
That player was Mech.
I was flattered when I saw my patch on his website one day, touting it as "The best patch ever" or the like. We met and talked a few times ingame after that, but didn't really become thick as theives right off.
Soon, Furcadia was released, and Mech's involvement on DragonSpires became occasional logging in to spam everyone with "WHY AREN'T YOU ON FURCADIA? WHY AREN'T YOU ON FURCADIA? WHY AREN'T YOU ON FURCADIA? WHY AREN'T YOU ON FURCADIA? WHY AREN'T YOU ON FURCADIA? WHY AREN'T YOU ON FURCADIA?" ad nauseum.
The First Death of DSEdit
DragonSpires died soonafter. Felorin and Talzhimir claimed that the game's host deleted everything and they had no way to put it back up. This wouldn't explain why they couldn't replace their own game files on a new host - but at the time I knew little of such things.
I tried out Furcadia. I admit it.
This was immediately after it was released. I had no idea what a "Furry" was, or what "Yiffing" was. Instead, I made cool maps on the game - and made even more patches. I made the first patch for the game, in fact.
Beyond this, I was very into trolling the game. Coming off of the "Anything goes!" style of hacker-paradise DragonSpires, I thought it immensely hilarious to create hundreds of alts on the game and have conversations with myself over the public channels.
I think I was probably banned about three times.
But I digress...
I eventually caught up with my friends Hellmonger, Wolfe, and Gunslinger on a text MUD named Trilogy. This was even more wild and crazy than DragonSpires had been, and I dropped Furcadia like a hot potato.
Soon after, I was contributing to the world of Trilogy by coding NPCs, emotes, rooms, and objects using it's really neat (to me) interface.
Then Hellmonger, Wolfe, and I discussed resurrecting DragonSpires.
We missed it so, due to the fact that we each shared a lot of laughs and weird behavior on it. Wolfe and Hellmonger had made bots for the game, as well as hacking it.
Eventually, Wolfe set up a DragonSpires clone.
Unfortunately, it didn't go very far.
Planet M and MoreEdit
Then Mech and I got to talking. He was learning Java and wanted me to help out with this process by giving him ideas and layouts for small, time-waster games.
I supplied the artwork and concepts, and he supplied the code.
I made it possible for Mech to host these creations by letting him use my account on Systs.net. This machine was owned by Hellmonger, who had given me the account previously. I also came up with our "company" name, "Stuff2do", and created our website.
Together we made such classics as "Mr. Olivehead", "Exploding Tacos" and "Try to Survive in -400 Degrees Wearing Only Your Socks". The latter of which immediately displayed a Game Over screen.
Then I had an idea.
If Mech could code these games, I wondered if he couldn't code something like "The Palace", which was a relatively new avatar-based chat environment at the time.
In no time we were working on "Planet M". I created the maps and the avatars, and Mech coded the chat, avatar movement, etc. After a while I suggested adding NPCs like Killbot (a robot you could fight with) and a new version of INFO, an informative robot based on a bot of the same name Mech had created for Furcadia and the original DragonSpires.
Everything worked out great. I came up with the idea of placing portals to secret/special maps, having special graphics that popped up when the user typed in a certain code, etc.
The very few people who played Planet M seemed to enjoy it.
Soon, I asked Mech what he thought about what Hellmonger, Wolfe and I had failed to do. I asked if he thought he could remake DragonSpires.
He had already been considering this, and we wasted no time in getting started.
The True ResurrectionEdit
Before I knew it, we were remaking DragonSpires in Java for browser-based play. Once again, we used my account on Systs.net, this time to host this new remake.
We had complete permission from the original game's creators, and absolutely no oversight or collaboration from them.
One thing you have to understand at this point is that I was already entirely the idea man. For this particular project, I would draw whatever I felt like and send it to Mech for inclusion in the game. We used the original artwork from the original DragonSpires game initially.
I would write Text files while offline, detailing mini-games, abilities, and features for the game. These too would be sent to Mech for inclusion.
Mech created the game. He coded it from scratch in a completely different language, with some programming advice from Felorin. Then, where Mech had created a palette, I began to paint a strange, silly, and idea-filled world by filling up the data files the game used.
DragonSpires was no longer just a one-map game with an arena to fight in and two items with an action.
DragonSpires became a world of over 60 maps, hundreds upon hundreds of items, many monsters, and magical spells. Of course, I'm only scraping the surface of the changes that were made and the things that were added.
CAN I BE TEMP ADMIN PLEASE??Edit
Players slowly filtered back into the game. We met people from all over the world, and banned some of them for trying to mess with the game.
At my suggestion, Mech added a "Temporary Admin" position. Something we could delegate to other users so they too could share in the responsibility of policing the game for hackers, abusors, etc.
Unfortunately, this was eventually reduced to a jumble of admin powers that Mech handed to girls and people he thought were funny.
I had to clean up a lot of messes and listen to a lot of players who were abused by mis-promoted individuals. Most of whom were promoted again later despite my urging.
Still, Mech seemed less and less interested in the project with each passing day. On one occasion, I asked to speak with him by phone. I was excited to discuss the future of DragonSpires.
Instead, Mech supplied me with a (toll) number belonging to someone else. Who? I have no idea. He seemed to find it funny, though. I found it to be a waste of my time and spare change.
Luckily he gave me his correct address when I sent him a Christmas present package containing a few items I knew he'd appreciate. Had that been the wrong information, I would have really been irate.
As time pressed on, Mech was reduced to a ghost. He sat on the main map in the "Away From Keyboard" position. Sometimes for days at a time.
Updates almost totally ceased. The "To Do" list grew. The list of unresolved problems grew.
Bickering occasionally ensued, and usually I was left frustrated by a co-creator who wouldn't answer questions or even speak to me on the subject of the game.
What's worse, Mech began releasing boss monsters (IE: Very powerful monsters that could kill a new player in one or two hits) right where new players would spawn, and others would hang out. More often than not, I would log onto the game to find these monsters running rampant, and players complaining to me that they had lost all of the items they worked to aquire.
Still, I did what I could.
I had Mech program the game specifically so that I myself could add to it in certain places. It wasn't much, but I could give the players fresh material to enjoy every now and again.
The "Rip Off"Edit
At this point, I was still going to the text mud "Trilogy" quite often. Mech would also appear from time to time.
I became tired of being ignored, laughed at, and outright insulted by Mech whenever I tried to pin him down on what DragonSpires and its players needed done. I spoke with Hellmonger and Wolfe again about the making of an online game. This was a few years after the original attempts. They seemed interested, as they usually did.
At this point, Hellmonger stated that "We could just rip off DragonSpires' code."
A hearty laugh was had by all.
Then, Mech chimed in. He agreed to this and gave his blessing, even though everyone understood it was a joke - he made it very clear that he wouldn't mind even if we wanted to do this.
He was clearly done with the game.
Money Gets in the WayEdit
After much discussing, but little action on the part of myself, Wolfe, and Hellmonger - some interesting news arrived.
A Korean game company wanted to license the Java version of DragonSpires for $15,000!
At this point, DragonSpires was wholly the creation of Mech and Myself. The only thing that remained of the DragonSpires Felorin and Talzhimir created was the name, and a handful of player sprites. The rest of the artwork from their time had been long replaced, and the game had grown from a chat room to a full-fledged online RPG.
Then, the crushing blow.
Of the $15,000, Felorin demanded $10,000 for himself and Talzhimir. He claimed outright that as the creator of the original game, they deserved the "Lion's Share". I'm not saying they deserved no compensation, but they were asking for an equal share on a game that they hadn't even played, much less contributed to.
When I pointed out the fact that NOTHING in this new "DragonSpires" was their creation, except for the name and a handful of player sprites, he stated that my work was derived from their concept (a chat room with knights) and that he actually owned my work.
Now, this was laughable to me. He gave Mech and I permission to remake DragonSpires. He didn't hire us. He didn't give us a salary. He didn't have any input whatsoever on the game once we began.
Still, he refused to budge. If he didn't get $10,000 for nothing - there would be no deal.
He also claimed to have a copyright on the name "DragonSpires", and didn't have much to say when I stated that names are trademarked, not copyrighted.
Worse yet, of the $5,000 that was left over for Mech and I, Mech demanded $4,000.
This left me, the creator of the game's World, Characters, Creatures, Storyline, Artwork, Concepts, Ideas, Features, and countless other bits... with the smallest sum out of all involved. $1,000.
- I realize this point in the story may reflect quite poorly upon me. Make no mistake, I would have been completely happy with a thousand dollars... under any other circumstances. After this page was posted, a former player read it and remarked something akin to "$1,000 is nowhere near worth what you put into DragonSpires."
Defeated, I resigned myself to the fact that Felorin and Talzhimir would get a big payday for a game they didn't work on, and that Mech would get several times the compensation I would, for a game we produced equally.
I made a final offer. I'd take $2,000 but no less. This would save my pride and would at least be a LITTLE less of an insult given all of the work I had put into the project.
Of course, Mech refused. He'd take $4,000 or nothing. He made it clear that this had all already been decided and set in stone. I had absolutely no say in this, and would take what I they decided I should get or I'd get nothing at all. It seemed as if they had discussed this for a long while, and merely informed me as an afterthought.
I could have really used the money.
But I refused.
As one veteran player of our game noted in a well-written post on our forums - Everything you saw in the game, everything you experienced, was filled with my sense of humor and my mindset.
She should know, she'd been one of the longest standing players of the game.
Still, the deal didn't go through. (Unless they sold without me. Never know.)
Not with a Bang, but with a WhimperEdit
Mech was royally pissed. He'd long been a sort of desciple to Felorin, and had absolutely no doubt in his mind that he and his tutor deserved $14,000 for what was equally the work of Mech and Myself exclusively.
This lead to a lot of animosity and much arguement. Mech had wanted the money to move to Canada to meet his girlfriend, and was really unhappy about this course of events.
Needless to say, I could've used fair compensation for my work as well.
During this time, I dropped Hellmonger and Wolfe from the project we'd taken up, remaking DragonSpires yet again, but in a different fashion.
I met a player named Primeval on the game, and he claimed to know Java.
I took him into the project in place of Hellmonger and Wolfe. This meant sharing with him the plans and the concepts I had previously shared with the other two. Also, he was given a handful of Java files from DragonSpires' host to familiarize himself with what would be involved in the undertaking of this project.
This was done with Mech's previous expressed written consent.
Primeval contacted Mech, claiming I had sent him the code so he could "replace Mech" as the programmer on DragonSpires. I had done nothing of the sort - and the notion is preposterous because he was only supplied with a handful of files he requested to learn from. He was not supplied with what he would need to start another instance of the game, nor were the files he had any sort of security risk.
Primeval expressed to Mech that he actually wanted to replace me on the DragonSpires team. He knew that Mech and I were having problems. It was very clear to all the players. In a series of private messages later made public by Mech himself, Primeval expressed the desire to take my role and work side-by-side with him.
Soon after, Mech removed my administrator's position on DragonSpires, claiming I had "leaked" his code. First of all, you cannot leak something when you have full permission and legal right to share it. Second of all, it was not his work. It was our work. it was our game.
He had no right to do so, as this game was co-owned by the two of us. Furthermore, he changed the password to my account on Systs.net, which I had given him full access to, never expecting to be betrayed.
When confronted about this, he slipped up in front of the entire player base. On a public channel, I asked him why he was doing this when he had clearly given me permission to start a new project using DragonSpires as a building block.
He replied, in front of everyone, by saying he had given me permission before our falling out.
By saying he had given me permission before our falling out.
Though he thought this was a good point to make, that I had no right to hold him to his word now that we were basically becoming enemies - in the end he only succeeded in telling everyone on the entire game that, yes, he had given me permission. In his anger, he uncovered his own mistruths for all watching.
The players of DragonSpires would not have this.
Every one of the players protested, constantly harassing and arguing with Mech about the coup in which he had removed me from my rightful place as co-owner, co-creator, and co-administrator of the game.
It became general concensus that they wished him to reinstate me, and leave himself.
Long ago Mech had aquired a reputation as cruel and uncaring toward the players, often killing them, deleting their inventory, and sharing Temp Administrator powers with people who made no bones about the fact that they wanted to cause trouble.
The pressure didn't let up. At every opportunity, cries of displeasure followed Mech. After a personal message to him once again stating that he should return things to their previous state and leave... He shut down the game.
Mech shut off the game, deleted all of the files, and left.
The combined work of two people over the course of several years, the countless hours players spent creating their characters and rising in the game -- were gone.
Since I didn't have any of DragonSpires' code, not even the files needed to run it, (some code-stealing hacker I turned out to be?) DragonSpires remained dead.
Several players created their own clones. Some were exact, some differed greatly.
Mech went on to produce a multiplayer freeze tag game where all the players were a GIF of a red pepper, and another DragonSpires clone he titled "Game 3", which didn't pan out. This was the last most of us ever heard from him.
I went on to work on other games. I've had my share of failed projects, but I've also co-created Hell Rising, Scroll Wars, and several one-off downloadables. I've also supplied voice work and pixel art to games such as the infamous "I'M O.K.", "Mean Cuisine", and "Quibble Race". I've written a webcomic for several years, and I've had my work published by Viper Comics. I could go on and list all of my creative work, but I think you have the idea.
If DragonSpires wasn't entirely my brainchild, with Mech coding as per my direction... why is it that I've gone on to undertake many creative endeavors, while Mech has produced simply "Pepperz" and "Game3"? I think it's clear that Mech has very much understated my role in order to better explain why he has treated me as such, and why he tried for a money grab that ultimately caused him to ruin our game for everyone who loved it.
I'm sorry, but I'm not the villain I'm made out to be.
When I began working on "DragonSpires 2: Dark Legacy" with one of these players - creating a new game similar to DragonSpires, but with more features and more fun - Mech released the original Java code to the public, seemingly in order to keep people from playing it. The timing was perfect.
The source was also released without my permission, and included my work which Mech misrepresented as free-to-use.
This backfired however. I got access to my account on Systs.net back from Hellmonger, and the original game lived once more. This time with the programmer from "Dark Legacy" adding all those things Mech never would.
However, the time of this 2D Isometric Java GMUD had passed. There was a big bang of initial interest from players who thought the game was gone forever, but it soon petered out until no one was left. In the age of Halo and Half Life, DragonSpires could no longer compete.
The responce from players was akin to "Hey, this is back? Awesome! I don't have time to play it, but good work guys."
Production began on "Scroll Wars", a new browser-based game that, while a continuation in spirit of the DragonSpires mythos I created, was its own entity entirely.
Since players were no longer logging in, DragonSpires was shut down for the last time soon after the PHP game "Scroll Wars" was created.
Though I hear someone's making a new version right now...
- Motorhed, AKA C.H. Wolf, email@example.com