That would be a long and possibly incredibly boring story for most people.
The story begins on a cold and dark day in England in 2000/2001 .... (where is a good movie voiceover)
You should probably know a little more about me before I get into the story itself.
Born and raised in England, with a background in programming and a passion for online games I realized back in 2000 that all of the browser games out there were pretty restrictive text based games that really did not give players a wide range of choices in what they could accomplish.
Before I started coding I did some limited work with the guys at the UOX project, working mainly on tools as I had a love of Ultima Online back then when it was fun and before EA added some features that alienated a bunch of players.
I also did some work on tools for Anarchy Online namely a tool called AOScript which you could use as a script editor. No one uses this tool anymore!
In both cases these tools were made by me with no affiliation to either AO or UOX although the UOX devs did become my friends ... sadly I have not spoken to them in a while.
At the time I was working for a small Database design firm back in England, we designed bespoke database applications for various industries. In 2001 I parted company with them and decided to try to turn my love of Gaming/Programming into a viable income. For anyone reading this .... make sure you have a source of income before doing that because frankly I was crazy young and foolish!
For a year I lived off savings and a little income generated from a website vb4all.net that I owned and made and sold VB6 developer components, Email DLL's and other useful tools to other crazy fools like myself.
All the while coding Forlorn Hope: Online in my spare time, back then I was very stupid and coded the first few versions in VB-CGI which if any of you know is perhaps one of the dumbest things a human can possibly do. The shared webserver I ran the first release on could not handle the complexity of the game and I eventually ended up getting shut down by the server host.
It was a bitter blow but it spurred me to come up with an ASP version of the game, which I did and re-launched successfully.
FH:O had over 200,000 lines of code and thousands of procedures, views and tables (Microsoft SQL Server) it was a well loved game although it was fundamentally flawed. Some parts were just not balanced as they could have been and it suffered because of it.
In 2004 I moved from England to the USA to be with one of my wonderful players who I had fallen in love with. We got married in 2005 and settled down to have a wonderful life together .... (more on this later)
Still with these problems it had over 35,000 accounts and a limited stream of money.
This drove me on to create Lands of Hope as I saw this as a way to fix the problems of FH:o and provide an improved gaming experience. It is worth noting that FH:O had no level cap, and someone was around level 17,000 when the game finally closed down. You should try developing content for an unlimited range of levels it was crazy!!!
Lands of Hope released in 2005 and started off more successful than its predecessor, although it has had problems over the years such as losing artists, having to change server hosts 2 or 3 times because some of the dedicated hosts I worked with could not handle the requirements as well as I would have liked.
Finally I found SoftLayer who whosted the game for 2 - 3 years of excellence, with great uptime and good speed. As some of you would know a dedicated server is expensive but ultimately worth it.
Unfortunately in 2008 my wife was diagnosed with endometrial(sp?) cancer and within 3 months they operated removing a grapefruit sized tumor, the operation was complicated by one of her ovary's exploding ... sorry for being graphic but this is part of my story. Sadly the operation made things worse and she died not more than a week after the surgery. Those of you who have lost a loved one know the kind of damage that does to a person and I would say for a long while I was a gibbering wreck.
In 2008 you could say I lost my wife and my main source of income as the Economic downturn started to hit, the game started to lose money and players as people turned away from gaming and simply tried to live and survive. At the start of 2011 with player numbers critically low I began work on Lands of Hope Phoenix Edition. With numerous beta tests and closed events since then leading to the open beta which began in September.
I have done some other things in this timeframe to earn a living such as Tool design work for RealmCrafter, website design and other things but then tell me any self-employed guy in todays climate who has not had to work hard to make money :)
I am an incredibly passionate person when it comes to doing something I love and I love programming. All of my games have been designed using Microsoft Notepad, the reason being that without a UI I find you know how to program by heart rather than knowing what the UI tells you is wrong. Don't get me wrong I know a good UI is great but you do lose some skillsets when you rely on the interface another has coded for you.
Lands of Hope has now closed down and a new game Phoenix Edition is up and running!