Sunday, May 5, 2013

URU: the beginning

Having played Riven, and then Exile and Myst, I signed up to beta test Mudpie, the new online game which was being developed by Cyan. In June 2003 I was accepted into the closed beta test for the game.

I remember the excitement I felt when I logged on for the first time and went through the initial stage of the game which have to be completed before you can join other people in the city. I teleported to the Nexus and then into the city - and was petrified the first time I met a real player and ran away! I played as Taliametris in URU.

Talia and friends... someone once got over the barrier... so we kept on trying

I soon met other people I didn't run away from, and began my online journey. I think it helped that we had a shared past history of Cyan games. The forums and the people I met in game were all friendly. I loved the fact that although you could choose your appearance in the game, you were actually playing yourself and not a character. We explored together. I made friends with a Swedish player called Creamdog, and he helped me with one of the games. From time to time we had to start over, as the changes to the games meant that the players had to restart over and over again.

 I lost track of Creamdog, but found friends in the Netherlands, the USA, Hungary, Ireland, UK. By the end of 2003, the open beta had begun, and URU was overrun with newbies. I spent most of that Christmas beta testing new things for the game, and probably neglected my family because of that over that holiday. Then came the news, in early February 2004, that the game had folded. I was very upset - I'd made friends and found a real community online which I hadn't realised was possible, and that community was important to me.

Finding the bugs in the garden in Uru with Norfren
One of my friends suggested There and Second Life as places that might make a refuge for Uru players. I tried There, but within a few minutes of getting into the world I had some players asking me my age/sex/location and then demanding to know what colour I was in real life. I was horrified and left. What difference did my RL colour make - to anything?

I tried Second Life... and more or less the moment I got in world, I realised how much more this was than a game. How amazing it would be to be able to recreate the places I knew and loved from Uru.

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