A RPGWW History
This article is supplemented by A RPGWW History: Miscellany. Be sure to check out the other page for additional information.
RPG World is an unfinished webcomic that parodies the cliches of video games, especially those of the RPG genre. The history of the RPGWW community can trace its roots to RPG World's web forum circa early- to mid-2001. While RPGWW did not start as the role-playing community it is now, its earliest members were typically gamers and fans of the RPG genre.
RPG World's forum in mid-2001 was a Ultimate Bulletin Board (UBB) maintained by Keenspot and the comic's author, Ian Jones-Quartey . All threads were displayed in a single large section, much like any single sub-section of our current RPGWW forum. Perhaps influenced by these limitations, there was a certain uniformity to posts in both content and tone. Posts that weren't about the webcomic itself--and some that were--frequently took an easygoing or light-hearted tone and potentially contentious subjects were generally avoided.
At this time, many posters created and posted under one or more personas. Early personas established during this period include Ash Fanrico, Daniel, Folx, Jinx, KingOfDoma, Neko, Nekogami, Phil, Rydia-chan, Stephan, Vulture, and Zero the Barkeep.
Image is Everything: Sprites
A handful of posters created or modified sprites to represent their forum personas. These images were used in posts to accompany text and also as forum avatars. This quickly became a popular trend, allowing appropriate forumers to become known as "spriters"--people who were skilled or prolific in the modification of video game sprites into persona avatars. Posters AbbaTerra, Ash Fanrico, and FFFanatic became known as spriters during this time. While sprites of all kinds were modified, those from 16-bit video game consoles came to be favored over others.RPGWW comic came into being. A poster named Chrono_Catfish created this sprite comic using existing avatar sprites: new forumers who wanted to be included needed to provide their own sprites. Since his comic was inspired by the posters and posts of the RPG World forum, Chrono_Catfish brainstormed with fellow forumers to create the name for his comic: RPG World World.
The acronym RPGWW was derived from this name and many forumers began to identify themselves under the RPGWW name. Soon after the start of the comic, pdrydia created a website on which to host Chrono_Catfish's comic. Also around this time, many forumers began to exchange AIM screen names and invite each other to user-created chat rooms.
The personas under which forumers posted were very similar to RP characters in their own right. Forumers posted in the role of their persona, responding to the personas of other forumers. In this way, small and large plots were created, often spawning new characters: Staniel, for instance, or TDTLTTOBNL. The earliest attempts at RPs were similar to this, but purposefully instigated instead of happy accidents. They largely did not take off.
The first RP to finish would be The Hit, a freestyle RP started by Ash Fanrico. While bearing typical features of a first venture into RPing--such as power imbalance and character control--the players who participated in the RP enjoyed it greatly. The formation of RPGWW's RP canon started with the Hit, although only select events from this particular RP are canon.
The second RP to finish was Rise of the Guild (sequel: In Pursuit of the Darkness). This RP was started and GMed by Archmage. Notably, Archmage ran this RP using Philsys, an RP system that had recently been developed by forumer Phil-dog.
After the successful completion of Archmage's first RP and especially his second--and his loud encouragement--more posters began to try their hands at GMing and RPing.
With the RPGWW comic established and RPing beginning to take off, the RPG World forum grew larger and its demographics began to change. It was not unheard of for a new posters to show up in the RPG World comic forum without any real interest in RPG World at all; instead, they came to be included in Chrono_Catfish's sprite comic, or to RP with a friend. Unsurprisingly, many RPG World fans--particularly those who were not interested in the RPGWW sub-community--were often displeased with these changes. Some RPG World fans complained of marginalization, especially as talk of the comic became less and less common. It was pointed out more than once that this was the RPG World forum and not the RPGWW forum.
The RPG World forum now had multiple and very distinct social groups. There were those who talked about the RPG World comic and those who did not even so much as read it. There were RPers and non-RPers. There were those who "spammed"--taking a jester-like approach to most of the forum, often derailing threads--and others who were irritated by these posters. There were well-known forumers, such as artists and spriters, frequent posters, and forumers with particularly salient personality (or persona) traits. More than one poster was positive that one or more of these social groups--one of those to which they did not belong--was destroying the forum: naturally, perceived members of that group were advised to cease and desist their destructive ways.
In addition to the social changes, the forum itself was experiencing technical problems with increasing frequently. While the RPGWW sub-community was familiar with the problem of downtime and lost archives, this was now happening more frequently. Additionally, these problems were becoming more bothersome; the postponement of RPs, and loss of RP posts, created no small amount of grief.
One day, the RPG World forum--and all other Keenspace forums--went down for several days. Several of our threads and user accounts went with it, permanently lost. When the RPG World forum reappeared, it featured a number of changes. Notably, it was now a php Bulletin Board instead of an Ultimate Bulletin Board. Only 15 posts displayed per thread page as opposed to the UBB's 75 posts per page. Additionally, the color scheme shifted from black text on a white and pale grey background to brighter text on darker backgrounds.
Shortly thereafter, the forum layout and color scheme changed again. With this change the forum again began to experience technical problems. The pages loaded slowly under the best conditions, timing out frequently or simply refusing to load on slow connections.
Suicidal Sprite, to the rescue
The RPGWW sub-community was becoming increasingly unfit for the RPG World forum, especially as it gathered more members who did not read the comic. There had been previous discussion of creating an independent forum that would better suit the needs of the community. Nonetheless, many of the older, influential members of the community were uneasy with such an overt distancing from RPG World. Keenspace's forum problems proved catalytic for RPGWW's independence; when our forum became inaccessible, poster Suicidal Sprite opened an ezBoard for us. This forum was established on 22 April, 2002.
To ease the concerns of RPG World fans who were uncomfortable with the forum split, the RPGWW forum was originally proposed as a potentially temporary solution. We could return to the RPG World comic any time after it returned. Leaving our new forum cost nothing--or so the argument went. In fact, the ability to administrate and moderate our own forum--to tailor it to and focus it on our community--proved to be too invaluable to abandon. While Ian J was becoming aware of the problems with his forum and working on moving his board to an independent phpBB system, RPGWWers decided that the benefits of an independent forum won out over staying as the "RPG World comic forum."
Communication with Ian during this time was lacking. Ian posted in the ezB forum about this, mentioning that he would have appreciated being alerted to the problems with the forum sooner. He offered to arrange an RP section for us on the new board he was setting up, and to help arrange sub-sections and moderators. Despite the fact that we declined his offer, he kept a link to our forum from the RPG World comic page for a long time.
The original administrators of the ezB RPGWW were Suicidal Sprite (also the ezOp), Archmage, DMSCV, and pdrydia. Later admins would be Squintz Altec, Kai, and Idran1701 while pdrydia would step down to moderator.
RPG World upgraded to Keenspot roughly the same time that RPGWW moved to the ezB. This helped bring an influx of new posters to Ian's comic forums, which began a new evolution of their own.
- It cost a lot of money to renew "Gold" membership. ezBoard's "Gold" services were a set of features which included the much-desired advertisement-free message board. The cost was based on the traffic a message board received and proved expensive for RPGWW.
- If we wanted to move--and move all our threads with us--the time to do so would be now, not later. While scripts existed to import threads from ezBoards to phpBB, the entirety of ezBoard was being upgraded to Yuku. When the board upgraded, the scripts might not work.
In addition to the lowered upkeep cost, Idran assured us that the phpBB was highly customizable. Transferring both threads and user accounts could be done easily. We would lose post icons and personal icons, customizable images that appear next to user names and thread titles, as well as the ability for individual posters to adjust how many posts display per thread page. We agreed to temporarily shut down posting
After the move was agreed upon and both threads and user accounts were transferred, it was discovered that many user accounts experienced lowered postcounts. Postcounts themselves did not transfer to the phpBB, but the transferred posts of a user counted toward the 'new' postrank. However, a number of user posts from the ezB era were gone; in the ezB setup, forums had a limit of 20 pages of threads per subforum, and only 25 threads per page. As a result of this, the more active subforums (OOC, Kotoki's, Discussion, Testing, Fanart) regularly "lost" threads when new ones were posted and were "pushed off the edge of the forum" or "eaten."
The forum layout changed minimally after the move. Ultraspam--which had begun as a forum for RPGWWers to use for testing the new forum while deciding whether or not to move--was moved to become a sometimes-visible subforum of Kotoki's. A second level of subforums was added to the Archives, "collapsing" the space those forums had previously taken up. The Unspoken Forum became accessible to all. Finally, the Testing forum--now largely superfluous due to the retroactive nature of changes to signatures, avatars, and postranks--was removed.
With the move of RPGWW to the phpBB board, Idran also moved the RPGWW website from its then-current address of zeke.tzo.com/rpgww over to the same hosting as the forum. Now the forums are found at forums.rpgww.org and the website at rpgww.org.
Being a rather large account of its own right, please see the separate article, A RPGWW History: Miscellany.