The History of Trench Wars/The Golden Age
- (February 2000 – December 2000)
Records were now being set every weekend. The population of Subspace skyrocketed, and Trench Wars now made up roughly one-third of the game population. Populations were creeping up to almost 300, and for the first time ever Trench Wars was the most populous zone in all of Subspace, edging out the leader of more than two years, Pro League, when suddenly disaster struck. The server moved.
Being as it was still quite a newbie zone; Trench Wars suffered greatly when the SSCU server moved. Suddenly half the zone disappeared, and many would not find out how to or actually bother to update their server lists for another few months. Yet the system was strong, and Trench Wars managed to fully recover its position and reassert its dominance on top of the Subspace chain within a couple of months.
Many more events were added to the zone during this time. Sir> Elim Killer managed to invent the most popular event in Trench Wars to this day, a game which still draws over 150 people every weekend, the game of WW3. WW3 was based on a simple principle, Canada vs. USA vs. Europe. While the countries would change over time, the appeal would never waver, and WW3 has since been a mainstay in the zone. In addition, SuperDave (Postal) created updated the Zombies map to it’s current look. Other games such as Waldo, ?go blind (created by Jacen_Solo) and the cult classic, Trenchopoly by SuperDave (Postal) were added during this time.
In this time, Burial created the Trench Wars Magazine, a collection of articles, interviews and so on dedicated to Trench Wars. Although many players in Elim loved the idea and loved the site, unfortunately this did not go on for too long, as Burial lacked interest to continue after only a few issues.
In the Staff, Crown of Thorns left the Staff for personal reasons, and in his place YoMama!!! and KJW were put in. In March 2000, Dantax was hired to run TWDL and TWBL, and SuperDave (Postal) was hired to be the Smod in charge of events, a tribute to his efforts of map-making and creating new events. A few weeks later SuperDave (Postal) quit his position, and FieryFire was hired under the events coordinator position.
Once the newly minted Smods were firmly settled into their positions, major changes took place. First of all in the leagues, the sysop DoCK> completely reorganized how TWDL and TWBL functioned. He ended the old system, and immediately changed the leagues into a pyramid league system, where the teams would start randomly seeded, and then would battle it out for supremacy on the pyramid. DoCk> also contributed significantly to the organization of the league when he decided to use the service offered by eGroups (later Yahoo!Groups) as a forum/mailing list system for league challenges and informing the Staff of games and when to host them, and also as use for the Staff discussion mailing list. For the first time, there was a centralized and easy way for all Staff members to discuss about events, and for the upper Staff to notify the rest of Staff about developments.
Other changes to the Staff included merging the ER and Mod chats into one huge chat, which had its ups and downs. The chat was so big now that discussions about virtually anything went on non-stop including the overuse of huge and pointless macros that spammed the previously mature Mod chat, although it did provide a good way for all of Staff to communicate. Also in this period, ZHs or Zone Helpers were added for the first time as a training level for new Staff, and Elim Refs started to become known as Event Refs, stressing the importance of events to the zone. The new ZHs and ERs were trained by FieryFire himself instead of the old system where new Staff was basically directed to a webpage to read a manual, which was nothing much more than the BanG commands and the rules of TWDL and TWBL. Also added was the new ?cheater command (and later ?help command as ?cheater was being abused too much for help-related events).
After this brief reorganization the Sysops begin their slow disappearance from zone events of which they were previously very visibly involved in. And so with these changes in place for the Staff, the size of the Staff quickly bloated in size. From this point on, the Staff would start becoming extremely big, and in many ways unmanageable. It was hard to have a personal grasp on the Staff, and more and more the new names became anonymous users and abusers of power, which were fired and hired daily. Also in a transition that is still going on today, the lines of power, which were one time clearly drawn, began to blur as overzealous ERs and ZHs started demanding more and more powers in the zone.
In terms of league, there were some exciting moments in TWL Season 2. Roxy had possibly the best record ever of any player in a game, when he went 24-1 in a game for –Final-. Elusive became the second TWL champs with a flawless season as TW Elites had done prior to them furthering their legacy as a Supersquad.
To add to the new changes, a new league was started by Debasser. Trench Wars Extreme League (TWEL) was the first ever dueling ladder implemented in Trench Wars to find the best duelers in the zone. Using the Case’s Ladder system (www.casesladder.com), the league was a smashing success in its first month and even led to the eventual creation of ?go duel. FieryFire and Jack Kiefer, would prove their dueling prowess by quickly asserting themselves as the #1 and #2 duelers in the league as they exchanged between each other for number one. Dynasty would also reign as #1 on the ladder for the longest time of anyone. Eventually lack of any real support and dropping player interest ended TWEL’s short-lived success.
As you may have noticed, the title for this chapter was the Golden Age of Trench Wars, but it had a catch. Indeed the zone populations were turning the zone into a force to be reckoned with. The events, which increased in both variability and scope, turned Trench Wars into a game within a game, where players could claim that Subspace was Trench Wars and Trench Wars was Subspace because it really did feel and look like it. Yet there was a price to be paid for all of this.
In Elim, players had been used to a small size. There was a time when you could recognize virtually every single player in Elim, and know how he or she played. The atmosphere was extremely competitive and personal glories were paramount. With the increasing size of Elim, more and more completely unknown players would go in and try out the arena. The arena itself began to loose focus. After TWL Season 2 when Elusive players were comfortable with their victory, and Siege players were in limbo, two of the driving forces for competition in Elim slowly faded away. The arena increasingly became a hangout place for players more than anything else, with the actual games second fiddle to just being there. While it became a place where veterans spoke of upcoming games, personal stories, daily news, and where you came to get reacquainted with old veterans of your day, the old Elim rivalries and the serious competition that used to be abundant were slowly slipping away.
In mid-2000 something startling happened to the zone. Out of nowhere, the Sysops added in a feature, which was original, but never to be duplicated by any other zone in Subspace. The resolution restriction was added in. Previously, just like any other zone, in Trench Wars, you could use any resolution and play. But with the new restrictions you could only play with a maximum of 1280 x 1024 resolution.
A fierce debate ensued. On the side of against were the players who did have the necessary computer equipment to go over the new maximum resolution. On the other side, were the players without. One of the infamous events of the debate included when FieryFire, a Smod in the zone asked for players against the restriction to vote against it by typing “100”, which went on for a full half hour and was logged for all to see.
While the against side argued for freedom to use whatever they wanted, and how the low resolution forced them to relearn the zone, and how competition was going to be sorely effected because a lower resolution would effect elim and other areas, especially in dueling. Also the argument stated that the lower resolution effectively punished many Elim players without addressing any of the issues that plagued the public arenas including lev-turreting and team killing. On the side for yes, the argument was simple. Basically, you have better computers and we don’t and there are more of us so to make it fair you have to be lowered a notch. After quite a while of constant complaints the sysops finally made a statement when Priitk proudly pronounced that the resolution restriction was added in because Trench Wars was never meant to be played with higher resolution. Although the complaints remained, the sysops never bothered to look at the issue again.
For Elim itself, the resolution restriction was a disaster. Most of the most fiercely competitive players in Elim had high resolution and for many, the addition of the restriction meant a gradual withdrawal from the arena, and as stated before led to the change from Elim being a competitive arena to more of a gathering place. Still the resolution restriction in the end changed the arena to be more fair for many with lower resolution. As most veterans showed their distaste to the res limit, it caused them to adapt. Those that had true skill continued to dominate and were able to finally prove to newbies who now gained an equal playing ground to those with high resolution that they really were good. Heated discussion was brought between Siege and Elusive, as Siege quickly adjusted to the res cap while Elusive’s adjustment took a bit longer.
Even more interesting was the Elim identity, which began to seriously emerge during this time. Before players were players, but now there was a definite group of Elim-Players and Pub-Players. Both groups started heated conversations and name calling about the faults of the other group with the Elim players generally calling the Pub players newbies, and the Pub players generally countering with calling the Elim players egotistical, a general feeling that continues to this day.
In the summer of 2000, DoCk> reappeared after an extended absence, and created ?go warzone. This was the first time that moving flags were added to Trench Wars and the arena was an instant success. For a few weeks, many dedicated players played the unique flagging game religiously. But with failing Mod support to host the game, and the realization that scores would never be kept or reset in the arena (as they were originally promised to be so) player interested waned and disappeared into infrequently hosted special Warzone events.
In August 2000 a most miraculous thing happened. The battles between the squads Elusive and Siege were as strong as ever, and finally after many weeks Elusive and Siege were in a position to play each other in the TWDL Pyramid League. The game set an attendance record to about 94 players in one arena, and ended in victory for Siege. Siege had done the impossible. They had not only defeated the much-hated Elusive squad, but they also ended Elusive’s 10-month record (carried over from FRAKTURE) of 52 straight TWDL/TWL victories. The game even resulted in DoCk> quoting both captains of the squads Epinephrine and Crome after the game to put on the zone’s news.txt. With a rematch a little bit later, Siege won yet again reasserting their dominance.
Many of the spectators viewing the recent Siege and Elusive games had seen what league could be for the first time in their lives. Used to a disorganized game, which usually resulted in a crushing defeat for one of the teams, they witnessed for the first time a very close match up between the two greatest squads in the zone. They saw teamwork taken to the next level, something which most Elusive players being of Pro League origin took for granted, and which Siege players mostly from Trench Wars had worked so hard to achieve. Undoubtly other squads wanted the same success, but none seemed to achieve the dominance Siege and Elusive had accomplished.
Answering the call, many squads crept up out of nowhere to quickly ascend in the ranks of the Warbird league including Scrotal’s Horde and Shinobi. –Final- meanwhile was in a sort of flux as many of their best players had left to other squads, and the squad looked like it was on its deathbed.
TWL Season 3 started in September 2000, and everyone was looking towards the eventual last round match up between Siege and Elusive. With a shocking pre-season victory against Elusive, Scrotal’s Horde was a serious contender for the title as well, and a freshly invigorated <>–Final- looked like a long shot.
In TWBL there were also Supersquads, which were dominating the league, the best two being Paladen and Cripples. Yet there were also newcomers with the unknown Wildfire ready to make a splash. The leagues operated by Dantax were a success growing day by day, and competition likewise increased with it.
Sometime during this period, a new game called Speedball was introduced as a sort of separate entity within Trench Wars. Created by Mr Mike and Chainbreaker it caught the attention of some players, but it never really became part of the mainstream Trench Wars players. That said, arena sported its own league and very loyal following. Also introduced was the Warbird singles and doubles tournament. Created by Poozzman, on a map created by Skater modified by Poozzman, these hour-long tournaments are still a favourite today.
Unfortunately for events, there was a growing trend, which had slowly materialized itself. As the Staff grew larger and more unmanageable, the standards dropped considerably. The training days with FieryFire were long gone, and although PoU tried to do something, it was at most ineffectual. Most of the new Staff was thrust upon the job with very little training if any at all, and the events and leagues suffered. It was hard to find anyone to host any league games, and when they were hosted they were done half assed. For events the hosting was so horrible it was not uncommon for Mods and ERs alike to take more than half an hour to start a simple Deathmatch. This is not to say all Staff were bad, because there were certainly many who did a great and professional job, but the growing numbers of those who were inept was alarming.
The problems of the Staff breakdown stemmed from the system itself. First of all, there was no more Staff training as previously mentioned. Secondly, there was absolutely no system to ensure that the Staff was doing a good job. Only repeat cheaters/abusers on Staff would be fired, but the promotion process was a mystery to anyone who was actually on the Staff. It seemed as though, those who played the most hours got the promotions with absolutely no measurement of whether they were actually doing a good job or not. Indeed, the only way of measuring Staff effectiveness that the Smods ever used was to have Robo Ref log the online hours each Staff member had, although that system did not take into account AFK hours. Ultimately the blame fell squarely on the shoulders of KJW and YoMama!!! who both failed listen and act on every single suggestion made to rectify the problem. The crumbling Staff with its marked drop in professionalism was evident to anyone who cared, and there was growing concern among the players of the zone.
In November 2000, Elusive reasserted their power post-resolution restriction, and took home the TWDL Season 1 victory as the pyramid was reset with Elusive at the top after defeating Siege in the grudge match for the title, and then successfully defending the title from a challenge by Scrotal’s Horde. In TWBL, Wildfire came out of nowhere and in the very last week defeated Cripples to win it all. A major controversy followed where the entire system was looked at because of the TWBL victory as Cripples had easily kept the number one position for most of the TWBL season, and many felt the Wildfire victory was stolen from Cripples. Certainly something had to be changed.
In November 2000 a gift to the people of Trench Wars came from Crown of Thorns and Slowbob. A new forum was created for Trench Wars, the TW UBB, a place where players could now discuss and complain about all manner of things. The forum carried over from a similar simpler forum ran by Slowbob earlier, which provided a similar place of discussion. The new forum would grow in popularity and some of the great issues of the day would be debated on it. Some of the issues included ideas to improve the zone (many spearheaded by Eric is God and Epinephrine) which were unfortunately all but ignored, Staff concerns, fun messages and announcements and most famously of all, the battle between many of Crown of Thorns’ detractors (most notably the members of LAME) and his supporters which went on for quite a long time.
Finally the Golden Age ended in December 7, 2000. It was the final game of TWL Season 3. The champions would be decided in the last game of the season when the undefeated teams Elusive and Siege played their last game. After a long battle and another record crowd of close to 110, Siege won the game, and won their first championship title. Realizing their time was at an end, the squad leaders Epinephrine and Dead on Arrival (aka Adrenaline) dissolved Elusive a few hours later. One of the most feared and hated squads in TW would fade into the history books. An interesting fact was that Siege had won 3 of the 5 times Siege and Elusive met, each game a record setter, binding them together in excellence. A great grab of players followed with Siege, -Final- and newly created Cynical being the big winners.
Although by no means the end of Trench Wars expansion or popularity, the end of the Golden Age marked the end of real changes for the zone. Almost all changes following would be incremental and evolutionary rather than Earth shattering. The Golden Age was when Trench Wars established itself as the premier zone in all of Subspace. It was when events came into being and widely accepted and even anticipated by the greater part of the zone. It was when the leagues really took off. It was when an intense rivalry between two great squads became a common subject of discussion. It was when the Staff had its great upheaval and a great-centralized system was created to replace the more ragtag systems of old.
To end the era the dissolution of my own squad might seem a bit self-serving and perhaps it is. But yet the end of Elusive marked something important in the zone. Before, the zone looked towards the future, of greater records, of greater events to host. Competition was on the rise and there were many serious self-made contenders for top positions. Afterwards the zone would slowly turn more to a role of preservation rather than progress. The efforts of the later periods would be to preserve all that was great about Trench Wars, and perhaps unfortunately the effects of stagnation. With the dissolution of Elusive, serious competition was soon to be delegated to two squads in the Warbird and new Javelin leagues –Final- and Siege which themselves were mostly directionless without a serious rivalry, while with new changes to the system it seemed as if Cripples would easily dominate TWBL. Many fun days of Trench Wars would still lie ahead, but the pure fun and excitement of a constantly growing and changing zone would be lost to history.