1992 - The inceptionBack in 1992, Luca Pancallo was playing to a lot of text MUDs (Multi User Dungeon) games trying to conciliate the love for computer games RPGs (like the stunning Eye of the Beholder) and the new power of the internet. MUDs were a good start and usually nice to play, but he felt those were all lacking a lot for background, roleplay and generally consistency that could bring the realism of the virtual world to new heights. (I remember a fantasy text MUD with microwave ovens attacking you :) ). In addition he really wanted to add some graphics to this kind of game to have a more immersive experience. From this need PlaneShift 2D was born.
The basic idea was to get the server technology used by MUDs (mainly LPC language) and add on top of it a graphical interface, plus adding a great background with well thought races and places.
Luca started to download all kinds of MUD engines and to modify them to his needs, studying them to see which one could be the best to use for PlaneShift.
1994 - The first teamApart from programmers at least 2 people were needed, 1 talented artist and 1 storyteller.
For the 3D artist there was no doubts, an old friend of high-school (Stefano Oggeri) was the perfect guy, rpg-lover and 3d gfx addicted. At that time he was working mainly with POVRay and the first versions of 3dstudio. But the final results were already quite stunning. He joined immediately the project.
For setting, Luca found Mauro Zanetti, an active rpg gamer and organizer of many fantasy related events in our country (Italy). They met inside an pen and paper rpg club, and Luca proposed him to join. He was eager to help and in few weeks he joined the project.
Searching amongst friends of friends, Luca found Danilo Moretti, a talented 2D artist that joined the project as concept artists, creating all races and many nice views of Yliakum.
The first team was born and really made of talented people. Stefano started to create amazing pictures of the world and Mauro wrote the basics of the underground world, detailing the races and the places you can still find today in PlaneShift 3D.
The programming side was handled by Luca, adding new functions on top of an already existing LPC engine, and building a C++ graphical interface to support the user interaction with the world.
The main idea was to have a 3d rendered (still) image for each of the locations and a minimap guiding you in the world. Plus a list of NPCs and other players that were in the same location.
Below there is a pic of the client's main page. On the top left there were the button to access the other screens, on the left the minimap, created automatically. At the center the screen that will visualize the various places visited, on the right, a list of characters present in the same location. On the bottom all text written by player and received by server.
1996 - The first official public exposureWhen the client was "nearly" working, we started to see if someone was interested in it. The first contact was with Galactica, a big internet and content provider. They were amazed by our idea, and we managed to participate with them to the most important computer expo in Italy (SMAU '96).
We were very excited about the expo, and we worked around the clock the week before the event, to have a working client with good and playable content.
On the expo we had a main server machine and few clients were visitors could connect and play. For the expo the interfaces ready were the main screen:
and the inventory screen:
You can see how the art of the characters is basically the same as today!
1997 - Another expo!Given the great public response for the client, we decided to go commercial, searching a contract. We found a company interested in the deal, one of the biggest communication companies in Italy. They decided to invest in our project, and we asked them to be present at the same computer expo in 1997.
Meanwhile we managed to add new screens and features to the game, like the skills one:
If you search on the web you can probably still find the old web page somewhere. Anyway we provide one here for your nostalgic enjoyment. The web site was completely in italian (try to read it with some web translator). The page is around 1998, one of the last seen online for the PlaneShift 2D project.
1998 - Stopped.Around 1998 we were trying to finalize the commercial contract for the game, but a major problem hit the company we were speaking to. Basically all the top and middle level management of the entertainment section was changed and the new ones were so busy in reshaping the company that really didn't care about PlaneShift. We tried to wait a few months to see if something would change, but nothing happened. The hit was big, also because many of us were in the right age to plan their future, and so each took a different direction, no more related to PlaneShift. The project was stopped completely, no one single line of code written after that date.
The pain on each of us was big, everyone saw that was the way to go, the game of the future, the place to invest money and efforts. But none of us was rich or crazy enough to start a company for it.
2000 - Something new, something old.PlaneShift never left the heart of Luca, that after some distraction provided by girls (you know who you are :) ), decided to restart the PlaneShift project, with a stronger organization, an internet wide team, and no more commercial tricks. Graphical 2D MUDs were spreading, but still not very exciting, PS 2D was still a lot better in comparison. 3D games were the major new wave of entertainment on the internet, and this was immediately taken as the new direction of the project.
All the ideas and background created for the old project could be reused and the will to create a realistic virtual world were people could have fun and create their "other" living was even stronger than before. The new gfx hardware could provide a great new level of impersonation and the vision for the new game was ready.
PlaneShift 3D was born!
The rest is part of present history, and you can read it in the ps news web pages.
Why we wrote this? Well, basically to let you know a bit more of our roots, that surely still affects today our beliefs and our development spirit.
Hope you enjoyed it! Let's make PlaneShift the game it deserves to be!