What is Wyvern?
To some, it’s just a game, including the races, guilds, quests, and all the maps that made up the universe. To others it was the community, a 2D Minath Auction Hall chat room to socialize with a variety of people from across the globe. To others, it was an idea.
Wyvern broke grounds when it was released, even winning an award at the time. At it’s core, it is nothing more than a Graphical MUD, but there is a cult following of players that have waited for over 5 years for the game to return despite hearing close to nothing about it from it’s creator. The same fans that were able to conjure up a letter with hundreds of signatures in just a few weeks, asking Rhialto to bring it back for them. The same fans that have players that have stuck around for close to 17 years, claiming they have not found anything better.
Well, Wyvern is coming back. Will it still be Wyvern?
When Rhialto took his hiatus, Wizards, a moderation and content creation team, ran the game in his stead. Thousands of maps were added to the game, only increasing in polish with each one. Balance changes that were long overdue, were implemented. Bugs were fixed that have been around since the game was created. And they threw Wyvern’s 10 year anniversary party, perhaps marking the pinnacle of Wyvern’s development.
There were complaints about the Wizards. They were accused of being power hungry, banishing people solely based on their attitude. Some long time players took grievance with the balance changes implemented, most noticeably the change to healing. Others didn’t like the rules that were enforced, calling them outdated, even though these rules were originally implemented by Rhialto himself.
When the game went down March 02, 2011, the reasons for it’s departure started with server trouble and getting a more reliable host, but over the years it morphed into a issue for lawyers. Rhialto wasn’t always the sole owner. There were others that still owned a piece of Wyvern from the game’s early years under Cabochon.com. Rhialto did not want to monetize the game without being the sole owner, fearing old colleagues would come out from the shadows claiming copyright and demanding money. Recently, with a final wire transfer in Hong Kong, Rhialto was able to get sole ownership, under a different company.
What surprised most, is Rhialto also doesn’t own the Wizard’s creations. Art, maps, quests, and items that the Wizards created, are the Wizard’s property to do with what they wish. In order for Rhialto to use Wizard content in the new game, he would need consent from each Wizard. The most notable Wizards have came publicly and blatantly refused.
Arilou’s, one of the Arch-Wizards, reasons were many:
We spoke previously. I told him that we would be willing to do organizational work before officially retiring and then we could be emailed if there was a problem. If the problem was small we’d fix it or if not we’d make the decision on whether or not the area should be removed. That is different than his current proposal.
Besides which it my work contains ideas, stories, and names that I would potentially like to use elsewhere.
Rhialto simply said that he would ask us to sign over our content and it was okay if we said no. Apparently it was not okay but what are you going to do?
Teshuvah, another Arch-Wizard, stated:
We were told we would be able to keep our stuff, that we would be able to fix it on the new wyvern so everything works… and that was not the case.
We always kept ownership of our stuff so we could protect it and see it was used as we saw fit.
Binyamin is the only other Wizard currently to come out and publicly state their refusal to let Rhialto use their content.
I did not give him permission to use my content. I don’t think any Wizards did.
There has been little noise out of Rhialto explaining the situation from his side, but he did release criticism of the Wizards regarding how they handled things when he was absent:
Sadly, you didn’t get to see the hundreds of articulate and intelligent complaints I received about them over the years. Not the ones from kids who were screwing around, but full, well-rounded essays from obviously smart players about the culture of ass-kissing and fear that the wizards created in my absence.
And to be honest, half the reason I was gone was that I didn’t like the way they were running it. It still amazes me that NOT ONCE did it ever occur to them that if people were “cheating” on quests, then maybe, just maybe, that rule should have been changed. Instead they placed traps and barbed wire and armed guards through the whole game trying to stop a behavior that had become obviously the way people wanted to play.
The wizards acted like the RIAA. Everyone on earth was telling them that the world was changing, and they just dug their heels in and started shooting people. The list of banished players for minor offenses is absolutely staggering.
This is a GAME, for crying out fucking loud. They should be ashamed of themselves. Every ounce of heart they put into their map designs was completely negated by the culture of zero-fun that they instituted.
As far as not caring, I’ve put almost a quarter of a million dollars of my own money, and close to 10 full-time years of my life, into this game. Moreover, I’m about to spend another quarter million dollars (I’m in over $80k already this year alone) and another couple of years bootstrapping it up from nothing.
Just because I had to take a break and make sure I didn’t get fired from the most important technology company on the face of the earth, doesn’t mean I didn’t care.
The wizards and I have irreconcilable differences of opinion about how to run a fun multiplayer game. Which is totally fine — they are entitled to their opinions. But it’s my game, so we’re going to do it my way this time around.
Granted, there will be other Wizards who will give their content over. Rhialto has reached out, or is in the process of tracking down all the Wizards that have worked on the game. Legolas is a personal friend of Rhialto, and it is assumed players will still get to experience his content. Losing Arilou, Teshuvah, and Binyamin, however, is a big blow to the amount of content the new game will see at release.
So, again, what is Wyvern?
If Wyvern is only a game to you, it is not going to be the same. Thousands of sprites and maps will not be included in the new game. It will take quite a long time even after Wyvern’s re-launch, for new Wizards and players alike to expand the universe to where it was previously. And even when it gets there, the old maps will still be gone forever.
Consider this, however. Halflings will still be there to squish. The Paladins guild will still be there to judge you for killing unicorns just for their horns. Green Dragon Scale Mail will still be waiting at the bottom of a Random Dungeon to sit in your inventory because nobody will buy. Macros can still be made so you don’t have to manually walk to the Minath Auction hall just to sit in AFK until reboot.
New maps will come, at least we will have Wyvern.