(As told by the site's founder)I found out about Master of Orion III about 6 months after it went public on a Delphi forum (that would be early January 2001). I was running "master orion III three 3" through Google in the off chance there might actually be a MOO3 in development. After i realized it existed, i quickly joined the discussion board and helped in any way i could (mostly by asking stupid newbie questions).
At that time, there were three pillars in the MOO3 community: the official website (moo3.com - in its then MOO2-esque black and green quick-hack style), the Delphi Discussion Board, and MOO3.net (started by Harel Eilem and his partner, also created and hosted the official MOO3 FAQ). After several months went by, MOO3.net starting having hosting trouble and went under. The FAQ then got transferred to a little fan site called cowssaymoo.com.
About that time i was playing with my new Paint Shop Pro 7 and starting designing a "what if" MOO3 web design, just for fun and to see what i might come up with. I liked what i came up with but there were already several other MOO3 fan sites and another one would just needlessly cramp the universe. But then MOO3.net went under and i wanted to help out. I asked Harel if the MOO3.net domain name was still obtainable. The answer was "no". Also about this time, cowssaymoo.com was about to lose its domain name and did not have interest in renewing it (it was a freebie to start with). So i made Harel and MadCow (owner of cowssaymoo.com) a deal: drop your current, ailing web projects and start a brand new one with me. After some mild persuasion, they agreed to jump aboard.
I came up with a list of site names. I really wanted to bring back moo3.net, but it was not possible. I don't remember the other options i came up with (they were pretty dumb though, IIRC) but "The Orion Sector" sounded pretty cool and fit the game as well. So i plunked down a registration form and a few dollars for extra features at DotEasy and the site went online in late May 2001. We mirrored all the official site's content (with much better organization IMHO), reported news from the discussion boards, archived data dumps that were released on the board, and hosted the MOO3 FAQ.
That worked pretty well and the site was quickly accepted, especially since it now hosted the FAQ, a treasure for any MOO3 fan site. In late 2001 a thread was started "Where Everyone Knows Your Name" on the discussion board. We talked about getting together some kind of "white pages" where players could find each other. I took the idea and decided to develop it further. Having no previous programming experience, i decided to take up PERL and write some scripts to create this "multiplayer white pages" idea. Later on, a game scheduling calendar and a tournament structure were added to work with the white pages.
In early 2002 (when we originally expected the game), the site was moved and redesigned for the better. I was expecting the game to come out soon and thought it was appropriate to come up with something nicer looking, not that the current design was bad or anything. We were also informed that our traffic was exceeding its monthly allotment of 1 GB. We were told to upgrade or move, so we moved! We then changed our web host over to Hostway, which i had used before for other sites i had designed. This allowed us more room, more traffic, and more features for less money.
As the MOO3 community anxiously anticipated the release of Master of Orion III, we got some bad news: MOO3 was beeing delayed. And as the story goes, MOO3 went on to hit half a dozen or so release date delays, from Q1 2002 to Q2, to Q3 to late November to early December, then to Christmas! Christmas slipped by and that brings us up to February, the month of MOO.
Rewind. In October of 2002, i decided i would reprogram the Multiplayer Suite in PHP using MySQL databases which were far more usefull than the ugly system that was currently running in perl. So, one piece at a time, it was all converted. There were also ambitious plans laid for many more site features as the community grew to accept our site more and more.
We again ran into the same problem we had a year earlier: we were busting at the seems for bandwidth and features. So the site was moved again to Simplenet Hosting which allowed PHP/MySQL, more space and bandwidth and many more features at a fraction of what we were currently paying. So, we moved and redesigned the site yet again, this time with a better navigation and a total directory restructuring.
With our new found freedom, we opened OSMoo, our discussion board based on phpBB, and it was an overnight success. Too much so, in fact. Installing a message board upped our site traffic by about 400% - 500% instantly. OSMoo was shut down after only being up 5 days and having sucked up our monthly traffic allotment, even though we had just moved into a roomier host.
Enter: Rob from DarkSky. Rob just happens to own a web hosting company of his own and is also a MOO3 fan. When we mentioned our need for fatter pipes, he offered to host our growing site for a bit of a discount. We accepted. After having only been hosted a month at SimpleNet, we jumped ship for DarkSky. OSMoo was reopened, we switched to a contributions system for financial support, we started getting official recognition, and we lived happily ever after...
[hopefully not] The End
And now for a quick update...
(by RobertHuntingdon)Of course, everybody who followed MOO3 in the least knows what happened in early 2003. Major disappointments galore. Well, that happens sometimes. And although the majority of the blame goes to Infogrames/Atari and previous publishers who owned the project and poorly managed it, there's enough blame to go around for all. Including to some degree the fans who got insanely rabid hoping for the greatest thing since sliced bread. (Speaking of which, anybody know what was the greatest thing before sliced bread? :P ) Well, hopefully we all learned from that, including future TBS developers, who will hopefully learn that they must make sure to spend both enough time and money to do it right.
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